Sonia Gandhi Meets President Mukherjee To Discuss 'Rising Intolerance'

02/11/2015 9:59 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 5: Congress President Sonia Gandhi (C) joins other Congress Party members to shout slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government at Parliament House on August 5, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Congress and some opposition parties on Wednesday persisted with their protest against the suspension of 25 MPs as the stalemate in the Rajya Sabha continued over the opposition demand for the resignations of three BJP leaders. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI -- Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's blistering evocation of the 1984 Anti Sikh riots today, Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi met with President Pranab Mukherjee to discuss "rising intolerance" in the country.

Gandhi, who had a 40 minute-meeting with Mukherjee, is also expected to lead a march of Congress Party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.

Gandhi's meeting comes in the wake of a growing agitation against intolerance, which has seen writers, actors, and business leaders voice concerns, and return their awards to protest against caste and communal violence, attacks against free speech, and an aggressive push to enforce the ban on beef in several states.

After a Muslim man was lynched in Uttar Pradesh by a mob alleging that he had slaughtered a cow on September 28, Mukherjee has made two public statements about the need for tolerance and pluralism.

"I firmly believe that we cannot allow the core values of our civilisation to be wasted… Over the years, the civilization celebrated diversity, promoted and advocated tolerance, endurance and plurality," he said, last month.

On Sunday, Gandhi launched a scathing attack against a "diabolical design" to divide people and spread hatred in the country.

"The hate, violence and petty mindedness is being unleashed as part of a pre-determined plan. We will not allow such a diabolical design to succeed," she said at a public function.

Speaking at an election rally in Bihar on Monday, Modi mocked the Congress Party for preaching religious tolerance, especially on the 31st anniversary of the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots.

Thousands of Sikhs were killed in the days following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, while the Congress Party was in power.

"Today, is November 2. Remember the November 2 of 1984. Two or three days after Indira Gandhi died, Sikhs were killed. There were allegations against Congress leaders," Modi said.

"Even today, the tears of those Sikhs have not been wiped," he said. "Doob maro (drown in shame)."

Paying tribute to the unfortunate tradition, which plays out on the days that mark the worst episodes of religious violence, leaders of the Congress Party and the BJP indulged in a blame game over the 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots and the 2002 Gujarat Riots.

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