Press Trust of india

I stand with the marginalised, I am the Congress: Rahul

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New Delhi, Jul 17 :  Rahul Gandhi today said the Congress stands with the persecuted and the "last person in the line" and seeks to erase "hatred and fear", breaking his silence on the controversy following a remark on the Congress being a "party for Muslims" attributed to him.

The Congress has denied the remark published recently in an Urdu daily as false and baseless.

"I stand with the last person in the line. The exploited, marginalised and the persecuted. Their religion, caste or beliefs matter little to me.

"I seek out those in pain and embrace them. I erase hatred and fear. I love all living beings. I am the Congress," the Congress president said on Twitter.

The BJP and the Congress have been sparring after the Urdu daily reported that Gandhi, who met Muslim intellectuals earlier last week, had told them that the Congress was a party for Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also raised the issue during a speech in Azamgarh over the weekend, saying, "I read in the newspaper that the Congress president had said that Congress is a party of Muslims, and there has been discussion on this for the past two days."

"I am not surprised as when Manmohan Singh was the PM, he had said that Muslims have the first right over natural resources," Modi said.

Manmohan Singh had reportedly said in 2006 while addressing the National Development Council that "innovative plans" need to be devised to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruit of development and must have the first claim on resources.

During his Azamgarh rally, Modi also said that he wanted to ask the Congress whether it was "a party of Muslim men alone", referring to the alleged reluctance of the party to back a legislation to protect Muslim women from instant divorce.

Gandhi's reported remark and Modi's dig at him sparked political fireworks yesterday with the BJP alleging its appeasement politics damaged the country and the rival party charging the BJP with trying to sow seeds of hatred and division to continue its rule.

The Congress also hit back at Modi for using the reported 'Muslim party' remark to take a jibe at the opposition party and said the BJP was the "new version of East India Company"  that was allegedly trying to sow seeds of hatred and division in the country to continue its rule like the British.

The BJP has been seeking a clarification from Gandhi over the remarks.

Congress' communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala clarified  that the particular newspaper which had quoted Gandhi as having made the remark or its representative was not present at the meeting of the Muslim intellectuals with Gandhi.

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