Secularism a necessity for country as diverse as India, says Sonia Gandhi at event on Nehru

Congress President Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, Nov 17: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday inaugurated a two-day long international conference to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Congress has invited various like-minded political parties from within the country and leaders from abroad for a conference in the national capital to commemorate Nehru’s birth anniversary.

Addressing the gathering, Sonia Gandhi Said: “There could be no Indians, no India without secularism. Secularism was and remains more than an ideal; it is a compelling necessity for a country as diverse as India.”

She further said: “Nehru’s belief that only Parliamentary democracy and a secular state could hold the country together has been proved right. ….the truth of this conviction can be seen in the conflicts raging in various parts of the world in the name of religion. Secularism, a state neutral in matters of religion, respecting all faiths equally was an article of faith with Nehru.”

Crediting Jawaharlal Nehru for industrialization and building infrastructure in the country, Sonia Gandhi said: “Recognising that independent India needed a rapid creation of infrastructure and industry, he built a strong public sector to lead the country’s economic emergence.”

The Congress party’s twitter handle in a series of tweets shared the views of Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s address.

The twitter handle tweeted: “Nehru was a man of letters who interpreted India to the World and the World to India. In 1947, India was a new born state, in turmoil after partition. Pandit Nehru brought stability and hope. Nehru’s views on politics as the vehicle of transformation brought stability.”

Barring the NDA allies, the Congress has invited various ‘like-minded’ political parties from within the country and leaders from abroad for the two-day long international conference.

TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa and JD( U) leader Nitish Kumar, RJD led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, RLD, JD(S) and leaders of the Samajwadi Party have been invited to the conference.

As of now, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, RLD chief Ajit Singh and JD(U)’s KC Tyagi have confirmed their presence at the event. Conspicuously, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name doesn’t feature in the list of invitees.

According to sources, leaders from at least 52 countries have been invited to participate in the conference.

The world leaders who have arrived are President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, former president of Ghana John Kufour, former President of Nigeria Obasanzo, former Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba, Queen Mother of Bhutan Majesty Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, human rights activist from Pakistan Asma Jehangir.

“We are expecting former Prime Minister of Nepal Madhav K Nepal, Cabinet Minister and Chief Negotiator of Palestine Nabil Shaath, former Secretary General of Arab League Amre Musa and other dignitaries by late evening,” a release from the Congress said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will be leading the Congress delegation in the conference. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh will make the opening and closing remarks respectively.

(With Agency Inputs)

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