Cong could have been more vocal on issues like Bilkis Bano: Tharoor

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Saturday said the Congress should be absolutely clear in its ideological stance in favour of an inclusive India and pointed out that party could have been more vocal on issues such as the Bilkis Bano outrage and murder in the name of cow vigilantism. Addressing the 85th plenary session of the party here, the former Union minister said the Congress should stand up for its foundational principles. “We should be absolutely clear in our ideological stance in favour of inclusive India. The tendency to downplay some positions or avoid taking a stand on some issues in order not to alienate what we assume to be the sentiments of the majority only plays into the BJP’s hands,” Tharoor said. “We must have the courage of our convictions. We could have been more vocal on the Bilkis Bano outrage, attacks on Christian churches, murder in the name of cow vigilantism, bulldozer demolition of Muslim homes and similar issues,” he said. These are Indian citizens who look to the party for support, Tharoor added. Last year in August, all 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gang rape case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy, triggering outrage from various sections, including the Congress. He asserted that India belongs to all and if the party does not speak up in such cases, it is only surrendering its core responsibility of standing up for India’s diversity and pluralism which should be central to the Congress core message. He said every effort must be made to strengthen the secular foundations of the country. “The fact is that India’s future is bright as long as the Congress fights the good fight,” Tharoor said. He also hailed the Bharat Jodo Yatra, saying it has revived the confidence of the party cadre.