New York: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, addressing a gathering at Times Square in New York, said “divisive politics is ruining India’s reputation of peace and harmony abroad.”
Mr Gandhi was speaking at one of the last events in a two-week US visit during which he has interacted with students, policy-makers and lawmakers.
“There are forces in our country that are dividing India and it is very dangerous, it ruins our reputation abroad. Divisive politics is going on and it has to be fought,” he said.
The Congress number two shared that the “single biggest thing” that people had asked him during his visit was: “What happened to the tolerance that prevailed in India? What happened to the harmony?…For thousands of years, India has had a reputation of peace and harmony. This is being challenged.”
Mr Gandhi said that many countries in a violent world were looking towards India as the answer for peaceful coexistence, so the country’s reputation was very important.
“So we cannot afford to lose our most powerful asset. Our most powerful asset is that 1.3 billion people lived happily, non-violently, peacefully… This is something that as Congress people, every single one of us has to defend,” he remarked.
“I can see my Sikh brothers, I can see people from different states, India does not belong to any one of you. India belongs to this entire room, India belongs to single one of us and that is what the Congress party is.”
Mr Gandhi said Congress as an organization was more than a century old but Congress as an idea was thousands of years old.
“It does not matter what is standing against them. When they believe in something and are convinced that it is truth, they stand up for it and pay the price for it. That is the Congress idea.”
Mr Gandhi said he had met leaders from the Democratic and Republican Party over the past few days and was asked about the situation in the country.
“They have asked me what is going on in your country. We always believed that your country worked together, we always believed your country was peaceful. What is going on in your country.”
Outside the event venue, a small group of Sikhs held a protest against the Congress Party’s role in the 1984 riots.
Mr Gandhi earlier addressed students at the University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton.