Anyone who said anything against the prime minister or the government was put behind bars, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged on Friday (September 4), a day after an FIR was filed against nearly 50 celebrities who wrote an open letter to PM Narendra Modi on incidents of mob lynching.
He said it was not a secret anymore that the country was moving towards an authoritarian state, adding that the prime minister should tell the country why had he “destroyed” the economy and created “massive joblessness”.
“Everybody knows what is going on in the country. It is not a secret. In fact, the whole world knows it. We are moving towards an authoritarian state. It is pretty clear,” the Wayanad MP, who has come to his constituency to express solidarity with the protests against the night traffic ban on a highway passing through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, told reporters.
“Anybody who says anything against the prime minister, anybody who raises anything against the government is being put in jail and attacked. The media is crushed. Everybody knows what is going on. This is not a secret,” he said.
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An FIR was filed at Bihar’s Muzaffarpur on Thursday against around 50 celebrities, including Ramachandra Guha, Mani Ratnam, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aparna Sen, who had written an open letter to Prime Minister Modi, raising their concern over the growing incidents of mob lynching in the country.
The case was lodged after a chief judicial magistrate passed an order on a petition filed against the celebrities before his court.
The petition claimed that the celebrities had allegedly “tarnished the image of the country and undermined the impressive performance of the prime minister”, besides “supporting secessionist tendencies”.
Hitting out at the Modi government over the “massive joblessness” and the dwindling economy, Gandhi said the “GDP growth was not visible” anymore.
The Centre could give a tax benefit of Rs 1,25,000 crore to 15 people, but not to the poor, he alleged.
“That is what is important in India today. The BJP should answer, Narendra Modi should answer why has he destroyed the Indian economy. Why has he created massive joblessness in this country? Why cannot youngsters dream about getting a job in this country? That is the discussion Mr Narendra Modi needs to have,” Gandhi said.
The Wayanad MP said there were two ideologies in the country — one nurtured the idea that the nation be ruled by “one man, one ideology”, while the other was against crushing of different expressions and voices.
“On one side, there is the idea that the country should be ruled by one man, one ideology and everybody else should shut up.
“On the other side, there is the Congress party and the Opposition, who are saying no (to this) and that this country has many divergent views, different languages, cultures, many different expressions and those voices should not be crushed. That is the main battle going on in the country,” he said.
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Earlier in the day, Gandhi met the five youngsters sitting on a relay hunger strike for 10 days against the restriction on movement of vehicles on a national highway passing through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in neighbouring Karnataka.
Expressing solidarity with the protesters, Gandhi spoke to them and said he hoped that the issue would be resolved soon.
He also promised to make available legal help to solve the issue.
Gandhi, who reached the venue of the stir at the Freedom park here, said the protesters represented the cause of Wayanad and thanked them for their “sacrifice”.
“They represent the suffering of the people here. All political parties are united as far as the night travel ban issue is concerned. There is no political difference on this,” he said.