New Delhi: Congress Wednesday raked up the "rajdharma" remarks of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made after the post Godhra riots in Gujarat even as it welcomed the decision of the Centre to give the highest civilian award to him and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malviya.
The party also compared the "reconciler" image of Vajpayee with the "divisive agenda of religious extremism".
AICC Communciation Department Chairman Ajay Maken said that they expect that the NDA government will follow the path of 'rajdharma' and secularism shown by them.
"We congratulate former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Malviyaji. Malviyaji believed in taking all sections along. We also remember that Atalji had once told (the then Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi to follow rajdharma.
"We hope that the central government will listen to what was said by Vajpayee and will follow Rajdharma," party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said at the AICC briefing.
Welcoming the Bharat Ratna to Vajpayee, former Commerce Minister and Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said that the former Prime Minister was a "reconciler" and believed in India's pluralism, economic development and infrastructure building.
"He is one person who actually represents the refreshing change when compared to the divisive agenda of religious extremism.
"Vajpayee is one of those Indian leaders, who are definitely admired across the political spectrum," Sharma said.
Maken said that "to a certain extent, both Malviya and Vajpayee represent the Indian thought which is secular and tolerant. We hope that this present government will walk in the path shown by these leaders."
Asked about Congress President Sonia Gandhi's ties with Vajpayee when he was the Prime Minister, Maken said both had a "constructive relationship".
He said it was possible because the Vajpayee government also appreciated the opposition for its constructive stand.
"I hope this (NDA) government will too take foward all these," he said.