Mud-slinging will help lotus grow: PM Modi

Attacking the Congress record on using Article 356 to dismiss State governments of regional parties, the PM says he supports cooperative, competitive federalism which honoured regional aspirations

February 09, 2023 09:19 pm | Updated February 10, 2023 07:30 am IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in the Rajya Sabha  on Thursday, February 9, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, February 9, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Striking a combative note in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on February 9, 2023, saying that he was ready to take on any allegations made against him and his government. “Ek akela kitno par bhari padh raha hai (One person is proving to be more than equal to them all),” he said.

Without specifically acknowledging the allegations against him related to the Adani group and the Central government’s silence on the Hindenburg report’s accusations, Mr. Modi said that the keechad (dirt) flung against him would actually help the kamal (lotus) to grow, referring to the BJP’s election symbol.

Opposition members crowded the well of the Rajya Sabha, shouting slogans about Adani throughout the PM’s reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks for President Droupadi Murmu’s address to the joint session of Parliament. The motion was passed by the House after defeating the Opposition’s proposed amendments through a voice vote.

‘Cooperative, competitive federalism’

Mr. Modi strongly defended his government against the Opposition’s allegation that the BJP was undermining federal values. Pointing to his former position as Gujarat Chief Minister, he said that he understood the importance of federalism, adding that his government had always supported cooperative and competitive federalism. His effort was to combine national progress and regional aspirations, said the Prime Minister, adding that the priority of his government was common people.

“We are accused of troubling the States. I have been the Chief Minister for a long time. I understand the meaning of federalism. We have stressed on cooperative, competitive federalism. We have kept in mind national progress in our policies and also regional aspirations. Those who are sitting in Opposition today, they had tampered with the rights of States,” Mr. Modi said, taking the attack to the Opposition.

His speech was drowned out by MPs from the Congress, TMC, AAP, BRS, DMK and Left parties, who were raising slogans in the well of the House. Several Opposition MPs were standing at their seats in protest against Mr. Modi’s silence on the Hindenburg revelations regarding the Adani group and its impact on state-owned SBI and LIC.

‘Who misused Article 356?’

Singling out the Left parties and the DMK, the Prime Minister sought to remind them how Congress governments in the past had misused Article 356 to get rid of elected governments. “Look at the history, which party and people in power misused Article 356 the most? Elected governments were toppled 90 times, who were those who did that? A Prime Minister used Article 356 fifty times, and scored a half-century and that name is Indira Gandhi. In Kerala, a Communist government was elected which wasn’t liked by Pandit Nehru and it was toppled,” he said.

Then he shifted his focus to DMK members, “In Tamil Nadu too, governments of veterans like MGR and Karunanidhi were dismissed by Congress people. In 1980, Sharad Pawar, who was a young Chief Minister then, was booted out by the Congress-ruled Central government. We have seen what happened with NTR when he was in the U.S. for treatment and attempts were made to topple his government. This was the level of Congress’ politics. They troubled every regional leader,” he added.

Particularly targetting the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Modi noted that none of his descendants used the Nehru surname, even while the Congress accused him of not mentioning Pandit Nehru in his speeches. During the Congress regimes, Raj Bhawans were functioning as Congress offices, he said, declaring that he was there to work for the country while the Opposition was playing politics.

‘Financial discipline needed’

Referring to the clamour for shifting to the Old Pension Scheme in Opposition-ruled States, the Prime Minister said that for immediate political benefits, certain State governments were putting a burden on the future generation.

He urged the States to follow financial discipline and not to tamper with the economic health of the country. “Don’t spoil the future of your children,” he said, asking States to learn from the economic distress in neighbouring countries.

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