Extensively quoting India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to counter former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the principal Opposition party of promoting divisions in the country by pitting States against the Centre and referred to it as the leader of ‘ tukde tukde [break-up]’ gang.
In his nearly 100 minute-long reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister charged the Congress of following ‘divide and rule’ policy and accused the party of committing a paap [sin] and ‘crossing all limits’ by politicising the corona pandemic.
Mr Modi accused the Opposition-ruled States of Maharashtra and Delhi of creating a sense of panic by asking ‘migrant workers’ from Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and Bihar to travel during the lockdown of the first Covid wave and said that resulted in a spike in cases in U..P, Uttarakhand, and Punjab, all incidentally States where Assembly elections are scheduled between February 10 and March 7.
Tearing into the Congress, Mr Modi pointed out that States like Nagaland, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, U.P., Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha have not allowed the Opposition party to win an election for over three decades or more. The Congress seems to have ‘made up its mind’ not to come to power for the next 100 years, he quipped and added that despite a string of defeats, the leadership has neither shunned its ‘’arrogance” nor does it like a “mirror being shown to them”.
Accusing the Opposition party of being unable to get over its 2014 Lok Sabha debacle, Mr Modi said “criticism in a vibrant democracy is like an ornament but blind opposition is disrespecting the democratic mandate”.
Without naming Mr Gandhi, the Prime Minister focussed on the Congress leader’s speech in which he had accused the Centre of trying to rule the States with a stick and by ‘suppressing their languages, cultures and histories”.
“The Britishers have gone but Congress has made divide and rule policy its character. That is why the Congress has become the leader of the tukde-tukde gang,” said Mr Modi. He said that Congress has lost the desire to come to power but seems to be working on a strategy that “when one is not getting anything then at least spoil something”.
“They are sowing seeds that will strengthen the roots of separatism,” Mr Modi said.
The Prime Minister took potshots at Mr Gandhi for being absent from the House during the reply to the Motion of Thanks debate, even though he was not present in the House when Mr Gandhi spoke last Wednesday (February 2). In a clear reference to Mr Gandhi’s speech, the Prime Minister said statements were made in Parliament with the intention to incite people and asserted that a “divisive mindset” has got into the DNA of the Congress party.
Hailing the people of Tamil Nadu who had come out of their homes to pay tribute to India’s first Chief Of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat when his body was being carried away after the fatal helicopter crash, the Prime Minister accused the Congress of hurting Tamil sentiments.
He quoted a verse of Tamil poet and social reformer Subramania Bharati to counter Mr Gandhi’s accusation that the Centre was trying to suppress the States and noted that people may come and go but the country will always be “immortail, united and great”.
“Sometimes a thought comes to my mind, with their statements, their programmes, their misdeeds, the way you speak and connect with issues, it seems you have made up your mind of not coming back to power for 100 years. Nobody does this,”Mr Modi said, adding, “If they had little hope that people would bless them they would not have done so. However, if you have only decided not come back to power for a 100 years, I have also made preparations”.
The Prime Minister attacked Congress’ track record on inflation by referring to statements of leaders including Pandit Nehru and P. Chidambaram, pointed out that the party had been giving garibi hatao (remove poverty) slogans since 1971 and asserted that the poor people have now removed the party from power.
“The question is not about elections, it is about intentions. Despite being in power for 50 years, why are the people of the country repeatedly rejecting them? Wherever people have taken the right path, they did not allow you [Congress] to enter again,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the way India handled pandemic is an example for the world and said that ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ or the 75 year of India’s Independence is the perfect time to aim for a at leadership position on the global stage.
During his reply the Prime Minister also talked about job creation by spending on infrastructure projects, by emphasising the PM Gati Shakti for multi-modal transport projects, focus on MSMEs and providing free ration to 80 crore during the pandemic.
He started his peech by paying to his homage to late Lata Mangeshkar and the House later passed the Motion thanking the President for his address by a voice vote.