Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said after the Karnataka election victory his party will “decimate” the BJP in Telangana and other state polls, emphasising that it is not just the Congress party but the people of India who are going to defeat its hate-filled ideology.
“We have shown in Karnataka that we can decimate the BJP…We did not defeat them, we decimated them. We smashed them in Karnataka,” Mr Gandhi said at a dinner event organised here Saturday by the Indian Overseas Congress-USA.
Mr Gandhi arrived in New York after visiting Washington and San Francisco and will address a community rally at the Javits Centre in Manhattan on Sunday.
He said in the Karnataka elections, the BJP “tried everything in the book, they had the entire media, they had 10 times the amount of money we had, they had the government, they had the agency. They had everything and then we decimated them,” Gandhi said.
“And I want you to know that we are going to decimate them in Telangana next,” he said to loud cheers and applause from the gathering.
“It will be hard to find the BJP in Telangana after this election.” Election in the southern Indian state is scheduled to be held later this year.
Congress supporters, officials, party members and members of the Indian community gathered in large numbers at the community event that was also attended by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Apart from the Telangana election, there are elections scheduled for “Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where we will do the same we did to them in Karnataka,” Gandhi said to cheers and applause from the supporters.
“It is not just the Congress party that is going to defeat the BJP. It is the people of India, the people of Madhya Pradesh, the people of Telangana, the people of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh who are going to defeat the BJP,” Mr Gandhi said.
He added that the reason for this is that “India has understood that it cannot go forward with the type of hatred that the BJP is spreading in society.” “That is what is going to happen in the next few states. And then after that in 2024 we will do the same…The opposition is united, we are all working together. It is an ideological battle. On one side, there is a divisive ideology of the BJP, the hate-filled ideology of the BJP. On the other side, there is the affectionate, loving ideology of the Congress party,” he said.
He said in Karnataka, the BJP tried to polarise the election and create anger and hatred between communities.
“Prime Minister himself tried it. Did it work,” he said as the audience replied no.
Mr Gandhi said the people of Karnataka declared that the election is about prices, unemployment and corruption.
Mr Gandhi referred to his slogan made during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, during which he had said “Nafrat ke bazaar mein mohabbat ki dukan kholenge.” Adams said the “New Delhi of America is right here in New York City.” “This community is one of the most highly-educated, one of the most highly business operated and owned,” he said, adding that what is unique about America is that, “we tell you never give up your homeland as you embrace your adopted land,” amid a round of applause and cheers from those gathered.
“You are Indian-(dash)Americans. As you embrace America, do not remove the Indian part,” the NYC Mayor said.
He added that India “historically has given so much not only to the geographical boundaries of your country but what the Indian community historically has given to the globe is just remarkable and has yet to truly be reflected in historical proportions.
“All of the great Nobel peace prize winners have basically borrowed from the rich history of your society,” he said, adding that they have drawn inspiration from the ancient Vedas and early writings.
Earlier in the day, Mr Gandhi “had a thought-provoking fireside chat” with leading thinkers of New York at Roosevelt House, home of former US President, Franklin D Roosevelt.
Mr Gandhi said the members of the Indian community in the US are “our ambassadors” and have shown America and the rest of the world “what it means to be Indian.” He said there is a fight going on back home and a similar fight also in America about two different visions for India. “One vision which is our vision – accepts everybody, embraces everybody, respects everybody, loves everybody, and wants everybody to be a part of the future of our country regardless of their religion, their community, their caste, their language.
“We are fighting our friends in the BJP…they have a very limited view of our country,” he said.
Addressing the audience at the event, Mr Gandhi said: “You respect other religions. You respect other cultures. You respect other people, you respect women. And that is the best way to fight the BJP, to live according to the ideology that we believe in,” he said, adding that the fight is not difficult.