New Delhi: Countering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation on Sunday that “conspiracies” were being “hatched everyday” to “finish and defame” him and destabilise the government, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi fired fresh salvo at the Modi government on Monday.
Launching a scathing attack at the Centre on the present situation, the Congress president in her opening statement at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting said, “We are meeting today under the most disturbing circumstances, circumstances that are causing grave disquiet across the country. The ruling establishment seems to have lost all sense of balance, and of proportion. It appears determined to undermine all democratic norms.”
The PM, while addressing the farmers at Bargarh in Odisha, had also launched a frontal attack on Opposition parties and certain NGOs. A day ahead of the commencement of the Budget session of the Parliament, Gandhi made it clear to her party leaders that the Congress wants the House to function and to legislate.
“Parliament meets tomorrow. Contrary to what the government has been saying, let me once and for all make it absolutely clear — we want Parliament to function, to legislate. The problem is not with us, it is with the government which refuses to accept that the democratic right of the Opposition is to raise burning public issues for debate and discussion. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that Parliament functions,” she asserted, while chairing the meeting.
Here's what Sonia Gandhi said at the CWC:
• It seems the ruling establishment is hell-bent on destroying the spirit of inquiry, the spirit of questioning, the spirit of debate and dissent.
• First, it muzzled our voice in the Lok Sabha.
• Then, it silenced civil society activists and organisations.
• Now is the turn of universities. Universities are places where young people must have the fullest freedom to express themselves.
• Professional organisations are becoming the mouthpiece of those in power.
• Courts are being turned into akharas.
• Elected governments are being subverted. No action has been taken against blatant corruption in BJP-ruled states for which there is clear evidence.
• The economy is just not picking up, regardless of the government’s tall claims. Farmers and rural labour are in a deep crisis. Social sector spending is being squeezed.
• Social justice is being demeaned by callousness to victims of caste discrimination. The freedom to think and speak are being drastically curtailed.
What Sonia Gandhi actually meant (as per the party’s statement):
• Disturbing developments taken place in recent months across the country have been engineered by the BJP, RSS and affiliated organisations. It’s part of a deliberate plan to divert attention from the central government’s failures to revive the economy, to control food inflation, to translate grandiose announcements into reality on the ground, to deal effectively with growing rural distress and to improve the internal security situation.
• Constitutional values and democratic norms are under systematic assault. The incidents in a leading institution of higher learning (read JNU) and indeed in similar institutions, and the violence and hooliganism that happened in a court (read Patiala House Court) in Delhi, was a planned attack on the freedom of expression and the freedom to differ. A manufactured debate on patriotism and nationalism is being generated through manipulated news clips to cover up the government’s failures and its heavy-handedness in dealing with student protesters.
• Educational institutions are not only the target, but have been a high priority in the RSS’s “nefarious agenda” to impose their ideology in the universities and colleges. Professional agencies like the NIA have been completely emasculated calling into serious question the Government’s commitment to fighting terrorism.
• The voices of civil society organisations, NGOs and social activists who are playing a valuable role are being muzzled and their credentials made suspect.
• The fabric of communal harmony is being systematically eroded and the atmosphere for social harmony being systematically vitiated. The language used by BJP leaders is objectionable, unacceptable and must be condemned by one and all. An organisation that never took part in the freedom movement, that never showed any respect to the ‘Father of the Nation’ and which never demonstrated any devotion to the national flag is hardly in a position to hand out certificates of patriotism and nationalism to Congress and its leadership.
“Congress Party in cooperation with other like-minded parties will raise these issues when Parliament begins tomorrow. The Congress is well aware of its duties and it has always been constructive, when in Opposition. But, as our party president said today, the responsibility for creating an atmosphere conducive to the smooth functioning of Parliament is that of the government. It is actually the Modi-government that has miserably failed to ensure smooth and normal functioning of the Parliament,” a CWC member told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.