Your law was not flawless, Modi tells Congress

“My political acumen has told me to keep MNREGA alive as a monument to your failures since Independence. After 60 years, you are still making people dig holes”

Updated - May 18, 2020 12:50 am IST

Published - February 27, 2015 05:44 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Lok Sabha on February 27, 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Lok Sabha on February 27, 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday mocked the Congress’s opposition to the changes in the land acquisition law, pointing out that farmers had rejected the party even after it hurriedly passed the law. “You should not be so arrogant and think you have drafted a flawless law which cannot be changed. Also, remember, that the law was passed with our support.’’

Articulating the problems faced by Chief Ministers and the Defence establishment in acquiring land because of the law, the Prime Minister in his reply to the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President’s Address, said: “We are not finding fault with it; we are only trying to improve on it. If you think farmers' interests will be hurt, we will take on board your concerns. ’’

Attacking the Congress party, Mr Modi said the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was a symbol of how it had failed the country since independence. The scheme, he said, would continue, but only as a living monument to this failure.

“I keep hearing talk that the government is planning to scrap MNREGA, or already has. I know that you doubt my experience in many areas but I am sure you will admit that I have political acumen. My political acumen tells me that MNREGA should not be shut down. I will not make such a mistake because MNREGA is a living monument of your failures,” the Prime Minister said.“60 years after independence you still have to send people to dig holes in the ground. So I will celebrate this with pomp and splendour. I will tell the world that these holes you are digging are for your own sins,” he added.

There has been uncertainty for months over the future of the UPA's flagship welfare scheme which was launched in 2005 to provide job security to the country's poor. Though evidently offended,

The Congress heard him out quietly till the end after which Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge accused Mr Modi of taking such a swipe at the programme because it was for the poor.

“Why is it that there is so much poverty still in Gujarat despite 20 years of your rule in Gujarat?’’ Mr Kharge asked.

Recalling his speech after bomb explosions at a rally in Patna in November 2013, Mr Modi said his question remained the same. “Are Hindus and Muslims to fight each other or jointly fight poverty?" he asked, adding that poverty was the common enemy of Hindus and Muslims, and his government’s primary commitment was to eradicate poverty.

“I want your support in this effort,” Mr Modi told the opposition benches.

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