India’s important opposition chief has mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to vary the nation’s identify from India to Bharat is “absurd”.
“He [Modi] needs to vary the identify of the nation, which is absurd…,” Gandhi, who’s on a five-day journey to Europe, informed Al Jazeera in Brussels after being requested about India being modified to Bharat on G20 invites.
The Modi authorities’s determination to substitute the identify with a Sanskrit phrase in dinner invites for attendees of the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi led to a serious uproar. Modi used Bharat within the G20 nameplate when the summit kicked off on Saturday.
Gandhi, the chief of the opposition Congress social gathering, mentioned the uproar over the identify was a diversion tactic.
“It’s attention-grabbing that each time we increase the problem of Mr [Gautam] Adani and persistent capitalism, the prime minister comes out with some dramatic new diversion tactic,” the 53-year-old chief mentioned.
The Congress social gathering chief has accused Modi of favouring huge industrialists and sought an investigation in opposition to the billionaire Adani, who controls the Adani Group, for alleged monetary violations.
The Adani Group, which runs seaports and airports throughout India, has lately been within the limelight after an investigation revealed it used offshore tax havens to drive up its share worth.
Gandhi is in Europe to satisfy European Union lawmakers, human rights defenders and other people from the Indian diaspora in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Norway.
The Congress chief informed Al Jazeera that the federal government has “panicked” after greater than two dozen events final month joined arms to struggle the final elections slated to be held subsequent yr on a typical platform named INDIA – an acronym for Indian Nationwide Developmental, Inclusive Alliance.
“This identify of the opposition alliance is a unbelievable thought, as a result of it represents precisely who we’re. We take into account ourselves to be the voice of India,” Gandhi informed Al Jazeera.
Whereas Modi’s go to to Europe has often been accompanied by elaborate welcoming dance performances from the Indian diaspora and intensive press protection, Gandhi’s go to has been comparatively quiet.
Some within the EU have additionally questioned the timing of his go to, since many of the key leaders from the 27-member bloc are at present within the Indian subcontinent for the G20 summit.
“I’m right here to have a dialog with the Europeans and change concepts about what’s going on within the EU and in India. To date, we mentioned India and Europe’s relationship with EU parliamentarians, the subcontinent’s altering function within the international sphere and in addition gave them a way of India’s challenges – which is a common form of assault on our democratic establishments,” he informed a press convention in Brussels.
Whereas a strident critic of Modi, Ghandi rejected the narrative that by assembly with Modi, Western leaders have been giving Hindu nationalism “a free move”. Hindu nationalist teams have been accused of finishing up assaults on minorities, with dozens of Muslims lynched since Modi got here to energy in 2014. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP) has denied that it backs such assaults.
“I feel G20 is a crucial dialog and it’s a great factor that India is internet hosting it,” he informed Al Jazeera.
“After all, there are points in India that must be raised by the West. However I don’t assume the framing that they’re giving India a free move is right.”
Persecution in opposition to Muslims and different ethnic and spiritual minorities in India has caught the worldwide limelight in recent times.
Whereas the United Nations and humanitarian teams have condemned New Delhi’s actions, the BJP has repeatedly pushed again in opposition to criticisms.
Gandhi additionally backed the Indian authorities’s balancing act on Russia’s battle in Ukraine.
“India has a relationship with Russia, the US and different nations. That’s regular and the opposition events’ place on the battle in Ukraine is consistent with the Indian authorities,” he mentioned.
An EU spokesperson confirmed that Gandhi met with officers from the bloc’s diplomatic physique, the European Exterior Actions Service, and mentioned EU-India relations. However he refused to disclose additional particulars.
Nevertheless, Gandhi highlighted that conversations about democracy in India have been mentioned when pressed by journalists in regards to the ongoing ethnic tensions within the northeastern state of Manipur. Critics have accused the Modi authorities of human rights violations and democratic backsliding.
The Congress chief has criticised Modi for dividing the formally secular nation of 1.5 billion on spiritual traces. Final yr, he launched the countrywide Bharat Jodo Yatra, or India’s unity march, to attempt to convey folks collectively.
“I feel one of many classes that I discovered in my stroll lately was that there’s an inherent and profound knowledge within the folks of my nation. No matter which a part of society they’re in….,” he mentioned.