Nehru’s legacy more significant today: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi : In a veiled attack on the Modi government, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said efforts were on to erase Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy and it had more significance today than in the past.

Speaking at an international conference here to mark the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister, Gandhi said: “Nehru is an ancient idea but he is also a part of living India. His ideas and politics are very much present today.”

Support TwoCircles

Gandhi spoke at the valedictory session of the two-day conference attended by delegates from 20 countries and 29 political parties. The conference later adopted a declaration which resolved to work towards a world where territorial boundaries become irrelevant.

The Congress leader said it was important that the people of the country preserved “this peaceful India, Nehru’s India, an India which is secular and tolerant.”

“Today this legacy, that has denied no man or woman their voice, and that we have fought to preserve for close to 70 years is more important than ever before,” said Gandhi.

He did not take any names but said some people were trying to “remove his (Nehru) legacy from the country he so dearly cherished”.

The Congress vice president said Nehru was a “man of ideas but not an ideologue” and he “never forced his ideas on anyone”.

“India is a country where democratic principles are cherished deeply. Nehru developed and protected these democratic ideals. That is why today India is a nation where one-sixth of humanity lives in peace,” he said.

He said Nehru’s fight was for all of mankind.

“Nehru merged with India and India merged with Nehru.”

Gandhi said Nehru gave space to opposition and valued them as partners in nation building.

“He defended the right of those who he did not agree with,” Gandhi said.

He said true democratisation was not simply getting the right to vote but empowering the weakest.

“Democracy was an act of faith. It is not a physical process that takes place every five years…India became a liberal democracy with a rule of law, independent judiciary and press overwhelmingly due to the first prime minister.”

Gandhi said that there were three million elected local representatives in India and nearly half of them were women.

“He said Nehru’s planning gave India the right to choose its destiny.

“That’s why India stands where it does.”

Gandhi said it took two world wars for Europe to build a democratic structure but in India it was done through a non-violent movement.

“Nehru’s leadership was of inclusion and compassion. He did not believe legitimacy could come from an act of violence,” Gandhi said.

Former Ghana president John Kufuor read out the declaration adopted at the conference which resolved to work for a world free from hatred and violence and to carry forward Nehru’s legacy in international affairs.

The delegates resolved to work for a world united in mutual trust, tolerance, equitable in access to global resources, struggle against poverty, illiteracy and disease and a world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

It also resolved to carry forward Nehru’s message of democracy, inclusion and empowerment and work towards a world where territorial boundaries become irrelevant, where cultural frontiers are inclusive.

“As representatives of humankind, we take a solemn vow to nurture the values espoused by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, to pursue his vision, to imbibe his spirit and carry forward his legacy to the entire world, to privilege peace and reject violence in all our activities, to respect diverse viewpoints and cultures to win over the forces of violence and injustice through tolerance, empathy and love,” it said.