Cong refuses to get drawn into controversy over 'Sanatan Dharma' remarks

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Hyderabad, September 16 (IANS) The Congress on Saturday made it clear that it is not getting drawn into any controversy over Sanatan Dharma remarks.

The party made its stand clear during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting which began here on Saturday.

CWC member and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram told media persons that there was no discussion on Sanatan Dharma at the meeting and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge made it absolutely clear that the Congress is not willing to be drawn into any controversy on it.

"We believe in equal respect for all religions and we stand by that position. That has been the consistent position of the Congress for many decades. We are not getting drawn into any controversy on that," Chidamabram said.

He was asked about the controversy created by the remarks of DMK leader and Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin.

"I am not speaking for DMK but I can tell you what DMK has said. The DMK has said that they are not opposed to any religion. They are opposed to caste oppression and caste hierarchy and all that goes with caste hierarchy; suppression of women, oppression of Dalits and as you all know the impediments placed on the so-called lower castes by the caste hierarchy. The DMK has explained that it is in that context they mentioned Sanatan Dharma," he said.

He termed 'one nation one election' an assault on the Constitution and said the Congress rejects the idea.

"It's an attack on federalism. It will require at least 5 Constitutional amendments. The BJP knows it does not have the numbers to pass these Constitutional amendments. Yet, it puts forward a mirage of one nation one election. It is only to divert attention from pressing issues and to create a false narrative," he said.

On the upcoming special session of Parliament, he said the chairperson of Congress Parliamentary Party Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to the Prime Minister listing nine items which should be discussed in the special session.

"We have not got a reply so far. If any of those issues are included, we will be happy and we will certainly participate in the debate," he said.

Chidambaram wondered what is the agenda without these nine items.

"The only agenda that attracted my attention was a bill to amend the chief election commissioner and election commissioners' appointment Act which is actually destroying the independence of the Election Commission."

Stating that the bill will reduce the status of Chief Election Commissioner and election commissioners and undermine independence of the Election Commission, he said the Congress party will oppose it.

To another query, he said there were requests from members of CWC that there should be Bharat Jodo Yatra from India's east to west.

"That matter is under consideration," he added.

He also stated that every member who spoke at CWC supported the INDIA alliance and suggested that 'we should take it forward and strengthen the alliance'.

"One or two members said seat arrangements should be concluded as early as possible... finalising seat arrangements is not a matter for the CWC. It is the matter for the 14-member executive committee of INDIA alliance and I am sure they are focusing on the responsibility and they will address that task."

He termed as 'fake controversy' the proposal to change India to Bharat.

"These are fake controversies. The Constitution makers were far more intelligent and wise than any one of us living today. Ambedkar and his compatriots said India that is Bharat. We believe India is Bharat," he said.