NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his reply to the debate on the President’s address to remind the Congress leadership that “they should enjoy being on bail” while recalling how civil rights were trampled during the Emergency with June 25 being the event’s anniversary.
Responding to speeches of Congress leaders who had asked why the accused were still roaming free if UPA-era scams such as 2G and Coalgate raised by BJP were true, Modi said unlike the case during the Emergency imposed in 1975, the courts would decide who went to jail and who got bail. Modi’s speech in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday drove home hard-hitting political points as he reminded Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi of pending cases in court.
On Monday, leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, had questioned the NDA government about why it could not arrest his party leaders though they had been branded as “thieves”.
In his first major speech in Parliament after he led BJP back to a majority on its own, Modi repeatedly said Congress had lost touch with ground reality while the verdict was a vindication of the hard work put in by his government. “There is no greater satisfaction than to know that our work and vision have been rewarded,” he said. He also strongly responded to criticism that he had ignored the contributions of past leaders, asking the opposition to provide any evidence that UPA had spoken favourably of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Forget our leaders, did they even recognise P V Narasimha Rao or even Manmohan Singh? No one outside the family was mentioned,” he said. Turning to a rare use of English, he said “thus far and no further”, stressing that he would not accept accusations that he had ignored past leaders from non-BJP backgrounds. The PM did speak of the need to leave the bitterness of the electoral arena behind, saying that “new India is not a project of one party” and adding that the “tu-tu, main-main” of elections should be forgotten in an effort to converge on an agenda of development and called for the revival of the post-Independence spirit.
He did, however, turn to issues like the bill to ban and punish triple talaq, calling on Congress to shed its opposition and asking the party not to repeat past mistakes when it had chosen the Hindu Code bill over the uniform civil code and later backed the revocation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Shah Bano maintenance case.
“They have another chance. We have come with a bill to safeguard the rights of women. This does not need to be seen with any religious community,” Modi said. The PM said Congress was divorced with reality as its leadership had gone “so high up in the atmosphere” that they couldn’t see what was happening on the ground. “It was said in the House that you can’t curtail our height… in fact, we don’t want to commit such a mistake,” he said. “We believe in remaining rooted and strengthening the roots. We are not in competition with you and I wish that you keep growing higher and higher,” Modi said.