Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said that the country was getting increasingly divided in the name of "narrow nationalism" as "forces of darnkess" seek to engulf it.
Gandhi said the liberal, tolerant Indian ethos that former prime minister late Indira Gandhi embodied is being rejected and repudiated.
"In today's times, when our country finds itself increasingly divided in the name of a narrow nationalism, the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is a recognition of the values she stood for," she said in her speech read out by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Gandhi said Sonia Gandhi has been ill but was keen to attend the function to give away the 30th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. Rahul said he dissuaded her from attending the event and read out her speech.
"The Award reminds all of us that like her we must be undaunted, unafraid and uncompromising against the forces of darkness that seek to engulf our land," she said.
The Congress vice president and former prime minister Manmohan Singh jointly presented the award to Carnatic Music singer T M Krishna, for his exemplary services in promoting national integration.
Sonia said the idea of India that Indira Gandhi fought for has been thrown fundamentally into question by the "rising intolerance" that one witnessed today.
Singh, in his brief speech, called for reaffirming commitment to the values Indira Gandhi stood for and celebrate India's diversity.
"At a time when our society is facing a danger of deepening divisions, true patritism demands that we follow the path shown by Indira Gandhi and work for social and regional cohesion even as we celebrate our diversity," Singh said.
The Congress president said, "The liberal, tolerant Indian ethos that Indira Gandhi embodied in her life and beliefs is openly rejected and repudiated. The precious idea of national integration has never been more necessary than today."
She alleged a view of Indianness that is one-sided, discriminatory and even warped was being thrust upon the country. -- PTI