20/07/2016 7:37 PM IST | Updated 20/07/2016 8:29 PM IST

Sonia Gandhi Hits Out At Modi Govt, Accuses It Of Polarising Society

Says the recent events there pose a 'grave danger' to the country.

India’s opposition Congress party president Sonia Gandhi shouts slogans against the government during a protest in the parliament premises. (AP Photo/ Manish Swarup)

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday slammed the Narendra Modi government over the unrest in Kashmir, saying the recent events there pose a "grave danger" to the country.

She said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government had done tremendous amount of good work in the Valley but that was "no longer the case".

"Recent events in the Valley are tragic and pose a grave danger to the country. There can be no compromise on national security. Militants must be dealt with firmly.Yet we must ask ourselves, what has driven scores of young people to such levels of violence," she said addressing the first meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

"Can we say in all honesty that we have responded with sincerity to their pleas?," Gandhi asked.

Kashmir has witnessed turmoil for the past 11 days after the killing Hizbul commander Burhan Wani with clashes claiming over 40 lives.

Gandhi said the loss of life and suffering of "our brothers and sisters, whether they are civilian or of the armed forces, is a source of deep anguish".

"They are our people, we cannot forsake them," she said.

Lauding UPA's role in handling issues related to Kashmir, she said, "Dr Manmohan Singh's government had done a tremendous amount of good work, along with a serious effort to open and sustain a dialogue. Sadly, this is no longer the case."

"We must respond with restraint and sensitivity to the harsh realities of recent months. Not doing so is fraught with dangerous long-term consequences. Our party's position is clear and consistent: while borders cannot be redrawn, much can and must be done within the framework of our Constitution," she said.

Attacking the government on imposition of President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Gandhi said, "On the one hand the Prime Minister claims the Constitution to be sacred for his government. On the other, he has no compunction in trampling upon it, first in Arunachal Pradesh and then in Uttarakhand."

"Fortunately, an independent and fearless judiciary has reminded him about Constitutional norms and values," she said, adding that "we cannot afford to be complacent since similar tactics are still being attempted in other Congress-ruled states".

She termed as "deplorable", government's inaction in helping farmers affected by acute drought despite Supreme Court's intervention.

"The widespread distress in rural areas seems to be of no concern to the Modi government," she charged, adding the government was starving funds to Panchayati Raj Ministry created by UPA which was "slowly being driven into extinction".

"BJP-ruled states are dismantling the edifice of the third-tier of democracy by taking away the autonomy of urban and rural local bodies," she said, adding the Modi government is also defying labour unions and reducing the security of their savings and the 7th Pay Commission recommendations have done "injustice" to government employees and armed forces.

She also accused government of "snatching away" rights of adivasis, Dalits and other traditional forest dwellers and "systematically weakening and subverting environmental laws".

"Brutal atrocities against scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities are continuing with impunity and shaming us all," she said.

The Congress chief said job creation has not only been at its lowest in six years but retrenchment of industrial workers and loss of tens of thousands of jobs in export manufacturing sector has added to the misery of the youth and the poor.

She also said that there has been a continuous decline in exports over the last 18 months and contrary to claims that India has turned power surplus, power shortages continue to be endemic.

Sonia said prices of essential commodities, especially food items, are at an all time high and the "Modi government's hollow claims on inflation have been exposed recently by no less than the Reserve Bank Governor."