Rajiv Gandhi did not use his election victory in 1984 to create an atmosphere of fear or destroy institutions, said Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, in remarks seen as critical of the Modi government.
Sonia was speaking at an event marking Rajiv Gandhi's 75th birth anniversary when she said the Congress faced formidable challenges but it must continue with its ideological struggle against divisive forces.
"In 1984, he (Rajiv Gandhi) won an unprecedented mandate, but did not use that power to create an atmosphere of fear or threaten and scare," Sonia said.
Rajiv, as prime minister, did not use his power to trample on divergent views, she said in her first public address after taking over as the Congress's interim president earlier this month.
Her remarks assume significance as they come after senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI in connection with the INX Media case, with the grand old party accusing the government of using central agencies such as the CBI and the ED as personal "revenge-seeking departments".
"In 1989, the Congress did not get a majority on its own, so he (Rajiv Gandhi) politely accepted the mandate of the people. I want to tell the present generation that despite (Congress) being the biggest political party at the time, he did not lay claim to power. This was because his inner moral force and honesty did not allow him to do so," Sonia said.
She asserted that her husband's 75th birth anniversary was not just a ritual being marked by the Congress, but an occasion to remember him, understand what he stood for and espoused, what he achieved and what he wanted to accomplish, had destiny been "kinder" to him.
"It is an occasion for us individually and collectively to reaffirm our resolve to continue to uphold the values that inspired him, to stand up and confront the forces that are determined to destroy those values."
"Electoral ups and downs are inevitable, the challenges our party confront today are formidable, but what must continue is our ideological struggle against the forces of divisiveness, forces that are out to change the very nature of our society, the very idea of India as enshrined in our Constitution," she said.