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Those who seek Congress-free India will be decimated: Ashok Gehlot

By The Hindu Bureau

There will never be a Congress-free India but those wishing so will be decimated, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Thursday.

Addressing reporters in Udaipur on the eve of the Congress' three-day Chintan Shivir, he said the grand old party was the main Opposition party and people look towards it to take on the BJP.

Mr. Gehlot also took on the BJP's turf of nationalism and said the party's leadership, be it former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi or former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, had a long history of sacrifice to protect the unity and integrity of the nation.

"It is sad that despite this, those in power now ask what the Congress has done in the last 70 years. They talk about Congress- mukt Bharat. There will never be a Congress- mukt Bharat," Mr. Gehlot said, adding those wishing so would themselves be decimated.

FIR compulsory

Responding to BJP chief J.P. Nadda's attack on his government over the alleged rise in crime in Rajasthan, Mr. Gehlot said he had made registration of First Information Report (FIR) compulsory which was why "crime statistics were bound to rise".

Mr. Gehlot said democracy was in danger as the Constitution was being attacked on a daily basis and "there is an atmosphere of tension and violence everywhere". He dared the Centre to probe the violence on Ram Navami across eight States.

The Rajasthan Chief Minister said, "This is not a normal Chintan Shivir. The Congress will have to give out a new message from this Shivir to the people of the country. The party will come up with a new ' Sankalp' from this conclave and then reach out to the people".

The conclave will begin with introductory remarks of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on May 13 and a valedictory address by Rahul Gandhi on May 15. On Thursday evening, Mr. Gandhi, accompanied by senior leaders, took a train to the chintan shivir venue.

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