Did Rahul Gandhi's 'Shakti' Allegation Strike a Nerve with BJP? Understanding the Controversy

Rahul Gandhi Clarifies 'Shakti' Remarks, Alleges Government Control Over EVMs
Did Rahul Gandhi's 'Shakti' Allegation Strike a Nerve with BJP? Understanding the Controversy

New Delhi- In the midst of the controversy over Rahul Gandhi's 'Shakti' remarks, the congressman has issued a clarification, saying that his statement was aimed at taking a stand against the government's efforts to control the electronic voting machine (EVM).

In a post on social media, Gandhi said that "Modi ji does not like my words. He tries to twist my statements and change the meaning, because he knows that I have spoken a deep truth."

He had earlier said, "There is a word 'Shakti' (might) in Hinduism. We are fighting against a Shakti (might of the state). The question is, what is that Shakti and what does it entail for us? The soul and integrity of EVMs have been traded to the King (Modi). This is a fact. Not just EVMs but every autonomous institution of the country, be it the ED, CBI or Income Tax department, have traded their spines to the Centre."

Responding to Modi's attack, Gandhi said, "The 'Shakti' I mentioned against whom we are fighting, its mask is none other than Modiji. It is a power that has captured India's voice, institutions, CBI, I-T department, ED, Election Commission, media, industries and constitutional structure."

He further said, "For this power, Narendra Modi waives off loans worth thousands of crore rupees while a farmer is forced to commit suicide on not being able to pay loans worth few thousand rupees."

What's the ' Shakti' controversy?

The recent controversy emerged over the term "Shakti," with Wayanad MP, Rahul Gandhi, linking it to the ruling BJP government's authority. Gandhi, who culminated his 63-day-long Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Mumbai, was addressing a mega rally organised at Shivaji Park. He alleged that the soul and integrity of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) had been compromised in favor of PM Modi, whom he referred to as the "King." This association of "Shakti" with the ruling party's might ignited a heated debate.

The Congress leader's remarks were swiftly met with criticism from the BJP, which accused him of misogyny and anti-Hindu sentiments. Prime Minister Modi, addressing a rally in Telangana, vehemently rejected the Congress leader's claims. He emphasized the sacredness of "Shakti" in Hinduism, symbolizing the power of Goddess Durga/Amba and representing every mother and daughter in the country.

The PM denounced the opposition's alleged attempt to undermine "shakti," vowing to protect and honor the feminine energy embodied by women. He highlighted the importance of "shakti" in Indian culture, exemplified by the recent Chandrayaan-3 mission's landing point, named "Shiv Shakti." The controversy reflects a clash over the interpretation and use of "shakti," with the Congress seeking to challenge the ruling government's authority while the BJP asserts its reverence within Hindu culture and its embodiment in women.

BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla slammed Gandhi for his remark. He said , " "A series of INDI alliance members have said that Hindu Dharma is fraud. Ramcharitmanas is potassium cyanide. Congress Party has a long history of Hindu hatred, from denying the existence of Lord Ram to making the statement about Shakti. The statement from Rahul Gandhi in front of Uddhav Thackeray shows to what extent they can fall. Today, this is not just an insult to the Hindu faith but shows the misogynistic mindset of Rahul Gandhi, who is against NariShakti and its manifestation."

A history of controversial remarks

Rahul Gandhi's history of controversial remarks has often landed him in legal trouble.

He faced a significant setback on March 24, 2023, when he was disqualified as a member of the Lower House of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha). This disqualification followed a conviction by an Indian court, which sentenced Gandhi to a two-year imprisonment term on charges of defaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname.

The conviction and subsequent disqualification sparked widespread concerns about the state of democracy in India, with many viewing it as an attempt to stifle dissent and political opposition ahead of the crucial 2024 general elections. However, in a significant development in August 2023, the Supreme Court of India intervened by staying Gandhi's conviction,

On another occasion , his allegation of "Chowkidar chor hai, implying Prime Minister Modi a thief, led to a contempt petition by BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi. Although Gandhi submitted an unconditional apology, he faced further summons for calling Modi "commander-in-thief" over the Rafale deal.

Gandhi has faced legal battles over other remarks, including his accusation that the RSS was responsible for Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

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