NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narindera Modi accused Congress at Lok Sabha on Wednesday of dividing India in 1947, forgetting the democracy instilled by Karnataka’s 12th century reformer Basava, and stabbing in the back politicians from Andhra Pradesh.
It is no accident these comments from PM Modi came ahead of state elections in Karnataka and even as his party’s ally, Andhra Pradesh’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), is threatening to split from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition.
As the Opposition shouted non-stop – “stop your theatrics” “enough of your ‘jumlas'” and “fulfil your electoral promises” – Modi kept on with what was supposed to be his motion of thanks to the President’s address, but what sounded more like a campaign speech.
Modi began his speech by directly accusing the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of dividing India at independence. “To this day, 125 crore Indians are paying the price for your sins, you divided India keeping elections in mind, you closed Parliament’s doors without heeding the people’s wishes, the seeds you sowed at that time, its ramifications are being felt to this day,” the PM thundered.
The PM also lambasted the Congress for brainwashing people into thinking the Congress, and especially Jawaharlal Nehru, brought democracy to India. He said that democracy “is in the blood of Indians” and cited the golden age of Lichchavi rule in eastern India and of Kannada social reformer Basava’s teachings.
“It is the country’s misfortune that Congress leaders feel ‘Bharat’ the country was born on August 15, 1947, as if there was no country before this. I’m shocked, do I call it ignorance, or lack of understanding, when it is said Nehru and the Congress gave India democracy,” he said.
Keeping the upcoming Karnataka elections firmly in mind, Modi decided to use Karnataka Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge’s recent speech in Parliament+ as a takeoff point to explain democracy to the Lok Sabha and to inform it that democracy isn’t a preserve of the Congress – far from it, he said, the Congress has destroyed democracy.
“Kharge ji aren’t you from Karnataka, at least remember Basava. You should know him, he established the Anubhav Mandap in the 12 th century. Everything he did was done democratically and women’s empowerment was his top priority, this was democracy in India in the 12 th century. Have you forgotten that, Kharge ji” the PM asked.
On Andhra Pradesh issue, Modi alleged that former Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi insulted a Congress CM at Hyderabad airport and “stabbed in the back the party’s own Presidential choice” Reddy.
“We cannot forget how the Congress insulted Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, a proud son of Andhra Pradesh. They humiliated him. Nobody in India needs lessons on democracy from the Congress Party,” said Modi.
The PM also had words about what he said is the lack of democracy within the Congress party. He claimed the popular choice for the post of Prime Minister, at the time of Independence, was Vallabbhai Patel, but that choice was cast aside in favour of Nehru. He also claimed India wouldn’t have lost what is now Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir if Patel has been made Prime Minister.
The PM also cited the Congress party’s recent internal elections as an example of what he claimed is the lack of democracy in the grand old party.
“In December, did we witness an ‘election’ or a coronation for the post of Congress president? One youngster raised his voice about this as well, but he was ignored,” said Modi, referring to a minor revolt by one Shehzad Poonawalla, erstwhile of the Congress party.
The BJP is nothing like the Congress and the BJP-led NDA government is nothing like the previous Congress governments, the PM said, proceeding to detail what he called his government’s achievements since storming into power in May 2014. “The NDA Government has changed the work culture in the nation. Projects are not only thought about well but also executed in a timely manner. The NDA government is building more roads than the previous one. We have given a strong boost to the infrastructure sector across the nation,” said the PM.
Triple talaq issue
Replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks for the President’s address, PM Modi was particularly scathing on Congress and other opposition parties for opposing the Triple Talaq bill, saying a strange argument is being put forward that men of a certain community will go to jail and this will hurt their families. He said, Hindu men too go to jail for offenses and there might be some discomfort for that reason.
He also blamed Congress for delaying the bill to accord constitutional status to the OBC Commission.”Look at what all you mocked – Swachh Bharat, Make in India, surgical strikes, Yoga Day. You are free to mock as you please but why are you blocking the bill for OBC Commission? Why are you blocking Triple Talaq Bill. Are you not sensitive to the aspirations of OBCs,” he asked.
The Prime Minister also called for a “constructive discussion” on holding of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies for the greater good of the country. He also sought suggestions from all parties for his government’s new healthcare programme ‘Ayushman Bharat’.