HAMBURG: Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who arrived in Hamburg on Wednesday as part of a four-day tour of the United Kingdom and Germany, said that the only way forward for a country to grow is to shun violence and embrace the philosophy of ''forgiveness.''
''Non-violence in India is a founding philosophy of our nationhood and the essence of being an Indian,'' Rahul said in a veiled reference to recent incidents of mob lynching across the country.
Citing the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi and grandmother Indira Gandhi, the young Congress leader said, ''Both my father and grandmother were killed, I have suffered violence. There is only one way forward and that is forgiveness.''
I have suffered violence and I can tell you, there is only one way to let it go- forgiveness. And for forgiveness, you need to understand where it is coming from: Congress President @RahulGandhi #WillkommenRahulGandhi #Bucerius pic.twitter.com/Jny10DRJFT
— Congress (@INCIndia) August 22, 2018
Further driving his point home, Rahul talked about his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's assailants.
"When I saw the man who killed my father lying dead in a field in Sri Lanka, I did not like it, I saw his crying children in him," he said.
He was referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, responsible for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, who was shot dead by Sri Lankan troops in 2009.
The Gandhi scion also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, he said, ''was making hateful remarks'' against him.
Referring to his famous hug after a no-holds-barred attack on the NDA government in a Parliament debate last month, Rahul Gandhi said, "I showed affection to him, but he (PM Modi) was taken aback. Even some of them (my party members) didn't like it and I disagreed with them.''
''The basic idea is that if someone hates you, it is something that they are doing, responding to it with hate is foolish, it won't solve any problem. You are in full control of how you react,'' the Congress chief said on being asked about hugging PM Modi during the debate on the no-confidence motion in Parliament.
The Congress president also came down heavily on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for failing on various counts and not delivering the promises it made to the people of India. ''There is a big job problem in India but PM (Modi) refuses to say it. You have to accept the problem to fix it,'' Rahul stated.
Replying to a question on the plight of Indian women, Rahul said, ''There is a huge amount of violence against women in India. India needs to change the way the Indian men view Indian women. Men have to start viewing women equally and with respect. I am sorry to say that men do not.''
''When I look at Parliament and political parties, there are very few women representatives. We are championing a Bill for women's reservation, but, deep down it's a cultural issue,'' he said.
''You cannot build a country if we don't involve women. Indian men have to start viewing women as their equals,'' he opined.
Gandhi made these remarks while interacting with the Indian diaspora at Kampnagel Theater, Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg.
Replying to a question on growing rivalry between Indian and China, the Congress leader said, ''There is no race between India and China. China might be growing at a higher rate than India, but in India people are allowed to express what they want, and that's what matters.''
On New Delhi's growing proximity with the White House, the Congress chief opined, ''India has a strategic relationship with the US, and we share some ideas like democracy with them. But China is growing extremely fast. India's role is to balance these two powers.''
Ahead of that, Rahul met Niels Annen, the Minister of State and Member of Bundestag, the German federal Parliament.
According to a tweet put out from the Congress' official Twitter handle, Gandhi and Annen discussed Indian and German politics, the devastating floods in Kerala, the GST and jobs.
During the visit, which is part of the Congress party's NRI outreach programme, Gandhi is also likely to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, sources said.
On Thursday, the Congress chief will address the Indian Overseas Congress in Berlin.
He will then visit the UK, where he will address an event organised by the Indian Overseas Congress in collaboration with local Indian-origin parliamentarians.
(With Agency inputs)