Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi calls on the American public to stand up for ‘modern India’

NEW YORK (AP) — Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi emphasized his criticism of the country’s leadership in a speech Sunday, calling on Indians in the United States and at home to stand up for democracy and the Indian constitution.

Gandhi, a bitter critic of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was expelled from parliament, accused Modi and his Bharativa Janata Party (BJP) of dividing the country and failing to focus on important issues such as unemployment and unemployment. education.

“Being mean to people, being arrogant, being violent, those are not Indian values,” Gandhi, 52, told a crowd of about 700 at the Indian Overseas Congress USA event at the Jacob Javits Center. in Manhattan. He spoke just after a minute’s silence acknowledging a huge train derailment in eastern India that killed 275 people and injured hundreds more.

Gandhi made a three-city tour of the United States, including speaking engagements at Stanford University in California and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, US congressional leaders have invited Modi to speak at a joint meeting of Congress later this month. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other leaders announced the speech as an “opportunity to share your vision for India’s future and talk about the challenges that our two countries are facing”.

Grandson of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi is a member of the Indian National Congress party. He is seen as Modi’s main challenger in the upcoming elections in 2024.

“Modern India cannot exist without our constitution and democracy,” he said on Sunday. He also called for a stronger partnership between India and the United States to offset China’s influence.

“One of the things we have to think about is the bridge between India and the United States,” he said. “How can we compete with the challenge that the Chinese have put on the table,” he asked, specifically citing issues of mobility and global energy supply.

The Congress Party defeated the BJP in recent state elections in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, victories after a string of state election defeats after Modi became India’s prime minister in 2014. Gandhi no longer holds an official position in his party. He relinquished the party chairmanship after his severe defeats to Modi’s Hindu nationalist party in the 2019 national elections, although his supporters hope the latest results will impact the country’s 2024 national elections, which will probably be held before May.

Gandhi suffered a serious setback in March when a court convicted him in a criminal defamation case for mocking Modi’s surname, a decision that led to him being expelled from parliament. He could lose his eligibility to run for a parliamentary seat for the next eight years if an appeals court does not overturn his conviction. The sentencing came in connection with a speech he gave in 2019.

Gandhi, who is not related to Mahatma Gandhi, also invoked the slain Indian leader’s name several times during his speech, praising his model of non-violence.

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