Puducherry: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he felt “tremendous pain but no anger” to those who assassinated his father – former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi – and that he “forgave” them.
In Puducherry to campaign ahead of elections in May, Mr Gandhi was interacting with students from the Bharathidasan Government College for Women when he was asked about his father.
“I don’t have anger or hatred towards anybody. Of course, I lost my father and, for me, it was a very difficult time… I felt tremendous pain, but I don’t feel hatred or anger. I forgive,” Rahul Gandhi, who was 21 years old when his father died, said.
“Violence cannot take away anything from you… my father is alive in me… my father is talking through me,” Mr Gandhi added.
What an interaction it has been!
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 17, 2021
Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE – a separatist group from Sri Lanka – in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.
The subsequent trial and conviction of his killers is an emotive subject in Tamil Nadu – one which has cropped up repeatedly around election time.
An equally difficult subject is the premature release of all seven convicts, which had been ordered by the ruling AIADMK in 2018 and has been awaiting the Governor’s approval since.
Earlier this month Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, after sitting on the order for two years, said the decision should be taken by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The centre, irrespective of the party in power, has consistently opposed their release. In response to the state’s order, the centre said Rajiv Gandhi’s killers could not be released.
Apart from answering questions on Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi also told the students that “no youngster should allow anybody to frighten them into silence… this is their power”.
“If you’re shutting up the nation, frightening people and not allowing them to talk, you’re destroying the nation’s character and destiny. No youngster should allow anybody to frighten them into silence. This is their power,” he said.
The comments are significant in the light of widespread outrage over the arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, who has been charged with sedition in connection with the farmers’ protest and the creation of a document meant to “spread disaffection against the Indian state”.
Earlier today Mr Gandhi also met fishermen and women from a coastal settlement in Puducherry.
Mr Gandhi’s Puducherry visit comes amid a potential crisis of numbers for Chief Minister V Narayanasamy’s government, which could lose its majority just weeks before elections.
Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has dismissed talk of a crisis.
Today he told NDTV: “Our government is not in the minority” and accused the BJP of poaching MLAs and repeating its tactics in trying to “topple democratically-elected governments”.
A potential Assembly crisis aside, Mr Gandhi’s visit also comes a day after Rashtrapati Bhavan, on the advice of the centre, withdrew Kiran Bedi as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.
With input from PTI, ANI