Congress vice president and parliamentarian from Amethi Rahul Gandhi was on Wednesday at his acerbic best as he unleashed a series of jibes against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government in the Lok Sabha while participating in a debate in Parliament.
On black money
Starting off with a taunt on the budgetary proposal allowing a window to domestic investors on announcing their illicit money within a stipulated period of time, Gandhi said that the government has come up with a 'Fair and Lovely Yojana' for financial malpractices.
"They launched a Fair and Lovely Yojana, to convert black money to white money. Modi ji had promised that he will put people with black money behind bars, now they have come up with ways to save those people," Rahul Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.
Referring to the rising commodity prices, the Amethi MP questioned the promises made by the Prime Minister before the polls on controlling inflation.
"Before elections Modi ji said dal is Rs 70 per kilogram and he promised to bring down prices. But now dal is Rs 200 a kilogram," Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.
On the pre-poll promise on job creation
The Congress MP chose to exploit the issue of inadequate job creation and launched a strong attack on the Prime Minister. The Make in India logo — the Asiatic lion — created out of cogs and wheels also did not escape Gandhi's directed taunt.
"I don't know anything, I don't understand anything. I listen to the people, understand them and then speak on those issues in the House," Gandhi said. "I am not from the RSS. I make mistakes," he said, consciously referring to PM Modi's RSS background.
"Modi ji promised employment to the youth before the polls. Now the lion appears everywhere (Make in India logo). But tell us now how many jobs you have generated?" Gandhi asked the prime minister in Lok Sabha.
"You created this Make In India babbar sher. Where ever you see, you see the lion. Even on TV we can see the lion," Gandhi said in the Lower House.
On Modi phobia
Calling the Council of Ministers as a bunch of timid colleagues, the Amethi MP urged them to gather some courage and speak up in front of the Prime Minister.
"I fear a bit... Narendra Modi is a powerful man. I know you (ministers) are afraid of him. But even then you should speak up a bit," Gandhi said in an acute jibe to the Council of Ministers at the Centre.
"(Union Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley came to me and said that there was no better scheme than MNREGA, I asked him why he doesn't tell that to his boss? He was quiet after that," Gandhi said.
On Rohith Vemula's suicide and sedition charges against Kanhaiya Kumar
Criticising PM Modi for not uttering a word on Rohith Vemula, the Hyderabad Central University student who committed suicide in the campus last month, alleging victimisation due to his backward caste, the Amethi MP said the Prime Minister should have spoken on the issue.
"Modi ji did not call up Rohith Vemula's mother nor did he even speak on the issue," he said.
"What is JNU? Sixty percent of JNU students are from the Dalit community, OBC and different backward classes. We learn. We don't claim to know everything. I had heard Kanhaiya Kumar's whole speech of 20 minutes. Not a word in his speech was anti-national," Gandhi said.
Advising the government to listen to its people, the Congress vice president said, "A nation is the relationship between its people. It is nothing but the conversation between its citizens. When I salute the flag I am not saluting the cloth. I am saluting the relationships that the flag represents. When I protect the flag, I protect the conversations on which those relationships are built. I protect every single voice. But I pay special attention to the weakest- those that are most difficult to hear."
"You cannot trample JNU. Nor can you trample the country's poor citizens," Gandhi said in an apparent message to his voters outside Parliament.
Referring to the recent hooliganism in the JNU campus and in the Patiala House Court allegedly by AVBP members and a group of lawyers, the Congress second-in-command chose to take on the government.
"Which religion teaches you to hit teachers, professors? When the media, students and professors were attacked in the court, you did not utter a single word," Gandhi said pointing at the Prime Minister.
The Congress leader also brought to the notice of the House, the treatment he was subjected to allegedly by AVBP workers.
"Respecting the flag means respecting the opinion of every Indian. When I went to JNU, your ABVP workers showed me black flags. Whose opinion does the PM listen to? Whose opinion does he respect, his ministers?" Gandhi asked quipping that the ministers prefer to be "silent"" now.
"The country is not the PM, the PM is not the country. I felt proud that I still live in a country where it's possible to be confronted by people who don't hold the same view as yours. You have been taught by your teachers in RSS, that there is only one truth in the universe, your own and that nobody else’s opinion matters," the Congress number two said while seeking attention of PM Modi.
On Mahatma Gandhi and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Even those in their graves were not spared by the Amethi MP as he went on to ridicule Sangh ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
"Tell me one thing. I did not understand one thing. I said (Mahatma) Gandhi is ours and Savarkar is yours. What's wrong in that?" he asked. "Isn't Savarkar yours? Or have you thrown him out? Answer me," Gandhi said in Lok Sabha as the Opposition benches burst out in a peel of laughter.
On ties with Pakistan
In his all-pervading attack on the government, the Congress scion also attacked PM Modi for his Pakistan diplomacy, more so, for his impromptu and uninnvited visit to Pakistan throwing all diplomatic protocol to the wind. He even dragged the 26/11 Mumbai attack to prove his point.
"When 26/11 operations were on, our citizens and soldiers were dying, the government of India begged the then Gujarat CM to not visit Mumbai. But he din't listen. Pakistan directly attacked this country in Mumbai. Almost 200 people were murdered and butchered. Did he care? He went there, disturbed entire operations, grabbed headlines when our people died. And what does PM do? Without any thought or vision, the PM decided to go have tea with the Pakistan PM (Nawaz Sharif). PM didn't consult the armed forces, he didn't consult the officials, I don't think he even discussed with Sushma ji," Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.
"The PM destroyed six years of our work. In one move he let Pakistan out of the cage we had forced them into. He gifted them a status equal to ours. He just went there as if its only his opinion that matters. Without any thought, without any vision he decides to take a detour to Pakistan. We spent thousands of hours of diplomacy to put Pak in a diplomatic cage. We convinced the world that they were the global supporter of terror," Gandhi said referring to the work done by the then UPA government on the Pakistan front.
On being open to views
Concluding his speech, the Congress number two pointed out to PM Modi that the opposition is not is not his enemy. He also advised him to be open to views and opinions from others particulalrly the youth.
"Especially listen to the voice of the next generation. They are the future of this country. Allow them the dignity of their voice. Listen to us across the aisle-we are not your enemies. Listen to the voice of our people- to the farmers &workers who have so much wisdom. The PM still has the option to listen to what the country is trying to tell him.Listen to those around you - to Rajnathji, Advaniji, Sushma ji," Gandhi said.
On deal with Nagaland-based NSCN-IM
Mocking at the mystery that shrouds the Centre's deal with the NSCN-IM in Nagaland, the Congress vice president took on the Prime Minister for keeping it in such a hush-hush fashion. The details of the deal are not yet available in public domain.
"As per the media reports, even the officials in the home ministry and even in the Intelligence Bureau were not privy to the discussions! We called our North East CMs and they were stunned.They had not heard a word about any accord. What had the government signed?" the Amethi MP asked.
"The Congress President (Sonia Gandhi) asked us to check what had happened because none of our CMs had mentioned anything about the Naga accord. The PM told the Congress President he had solved the Nagaland problem and signed a historic accord. Most important question, where is Naga accord now? It's gone with the wind. Bye Bye accord," Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.