On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Parliament; this comes a day after Rahul Gandhi's salvo, when he asked the PM that he should not run the nation on his opinions. The house is expected to witness another storm as CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury is expected to raise the issue of doctored tapes in the JNU case in the house.
Rahul Gandhi singularly targeted Prime Minister Narendra as he led the opposition attack on government in Lok Sabha, saying a "fair and lovely" scheme had been brought to launder blackmoney and slammed it over JNU and Dalit student Rohith Vemula issue besides the Pakistan policy.
In acerbic remarks on Modi's style of functioning, the Congress Vice President, while participating in the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address, accused him of not listening to anyone's opinion including that of his ministers and MPs. He also ridiculed Modi's ambitious 'Make in India' programme, saying the Prime Minister has "created a 'babbar sher' (Asiatic Lion)" in which "clock and wheels are seen moving" and questioned how many jobs have been created.
Hitting back, the ruling BJP said lessons on corruption should not be given by those who "looted" the country and reminded about scams like 2G and coal block allocation during the previous UPA tenure which had "tarnished" India's image among investors. Pralhad Joshi, fielded by BJP, accused the UPA of misusing the power and compromising the national security by changing the affidavit in Ishrat Jahan case with a view to "torture Modi and Amit Shah." He also mentioned the National Herald case involving top Congress leadership which currently is in courts. Gandhi, while attacking BJP, said, "You have been taught by your teachers in the RSS that there is one truth in the universe — your own and nobody else's opinion matters."
Focussing his attack on Modi, he said, "The Prime Minister cannot run the country with his opinion alone. The country is not PM and PM is not the country." Attacking the scheme on blackmoney announced in the budget on Monday, Gandhi said, "Nobody who has blackmoney will be jailed under Modi's 'Fair and Lovely' scheme. All those who have blackmoney can make it white under this scheme."
Recalling Modi's promise of putting people with blackmoney behind bars, the Congress leader said the government had instead come up with a way to help such people. He was referring to the one-time four-month compliance window announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley under which people with domestic blackmoney can come clean by paying 45 per cent tax and penalty and get immunity from prosecution. Gandhi was sharply critical of the government over the turmoil in Delhi's JNU and maintained that student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, who has been charged with sedition, had not uttered a single word against the law but was behind bars while the "real culprits" were roaming free. Questioning Modi's silence over the JNU episode, Gandhi said that he had not uttered a single word when teachers and the media were attacked in the Patiala House court complex in the capital when Kumar was brought there for a hearing. "Which religion teaches to assault teachers," he asked.
In his 40-minute speech, Gandhi said 60 per cent of students in JNU belonged to dalits, minorities and OBCs. 40 per cent of them came from a poor background. "Why are you after the JNU? Because dalits and adivasis study there and you don't want them to grow. But we will not let this happen. We cannot crush the JNU," he asserted in the course of his speech interrupted by the ruling NDA members. Referring to the suicide Vemula in the Hyderabad Central University, the Congress leader said the Prime Minister had not bothered to call his mother. He also attacked Modi's Pakistan policy and accused him of releasing that country from a "little cage" in which the UPA government had put it through its diplomacy by suddenly visiting Lahore to have tea with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
"What did the Prime Minister do? He decided to have a cup of tea with Nawaz Sharif without any vision. He decided to take a detour to Pakistan. Just like the Naga Accord, he did not bother to consult anyone...the people in intelligence, the diplomats. "Perhaps he did not even talk to (External Affairs Minister) Sushmaji (Swaraj). Only his opinion matters. He single-handedly destroyed the six years of work done by the UPA," Gandhi said. "When he stopped over at Pakistan without talking to the professionals in our government, the Prime Minister disrespected our flag. He disrespected those who died in Mumbai and Pathankot," the Congress Vice President said. Besides, he told Modi, "You cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between Indians. You are not defending the flag when you frighten your own people into silence."
Questioning whose opinion the Prime Minister respects except his own, Gandhi urged him to reach out to the Opposition, Gandhi made it clear that the opposition does not consider the government as an "enemy" and "does not hate you". Gandhi also raked up the 26/11 attack to target Modi, saying when security forces were battling terrorists, the then Gujarat Chief Minister went to the attack site in Mumbai and "disturbed" the entire operation. "The then government of India begged the then CM of Gujarat again and again not to go to Mumbai because he would disturb the operation. Did he care? No. He went right ahead to Mumbai, to the Oberoi hotel itself and disturbed the entire operation. He grabbed his headlines while our people died," he said. "There is only one truth in the RSS. One truth in universe — your own. Nobody else's opinion matters in entire universe. This is all you have shown in last two years. PM cannot run the country with his opinion. Country is not PM. PM is not country," he said. Insisting that National Flag is much more than cloth, he noted that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic and and Pakistan President Yayha Khan used to salute their flags but ultimately ended in breaking their nations. "Yahya Khan did not listen to the sentiments among the Bengalese and Punjabis," he said.
Responding to Gandhi's accusations, Pralhad Joshi said "Those who have looted this country are talking about corruption." He alleged corruption was rampant during the UPA rule and coal blocks were allocated by the government on the recommendations of the Congress party. "There was time when foreign investors used to say that they have to bribe Congress if they wanted to invest in India," the BJP member said. The Modi government, Joshi said, was unlike the previous UPA government wherein "Prime Minister used to preside, and madam used to decide." Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) said the government should think whay the people especially poor, farmers, intellectuals and workers have turned against it within a short period of two years.
The BJP, he said, should also think why its relationship with Shiv Sena and Akali Dal is getting soured. He said the government should not think of scrapping reservation in jobs which was achieved after great struggle. With regard to JNU incident, Yadav said it would be wrong to accuse students and Left parties of sedition and the government must learn to respect the views of others. He suggested that the government should call an all party meeting on important issues and listen to the views of others. Supriya Sule (NCP) said the government should find out who had doctored the tapes in connection with the JNU controversy. She said the government should walk the extra mile to deal with the problem of agraran distress and farmer suicide. Thota Narasimham (TDP) said every move of the government should be in the direction of removal of poverty. "Benefit of growth should accrue to all the sections of society...there is a need to measure poverty," he said adding the government's initiatives like Clean India and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana would help in eradication of poverty.
Fruits of growth has not reached to the poor and due to the corruption and red tapism, qualified youth are applying for jobs to countries like the US, he said and attacked the previous government for politicising everything. He also demanded financial assistance and special status for the newly constituted Andhra Pradesh as "our state is facing great problem". "We want helping hand from the centre. We need special package from the Centre. I request the Union government to fulfill all the promises they have made for the state," he said adding "it will enable us to stand on our legs. Generous financial assistance for Amaravati", which is being developed as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. He also demanded from the Railway and the Road Minister to provide connectivity to the new capital and asked the Centre to give top priority to the blue revolution in the state.
A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) said that the President's Address has not mentioned about the diversity of the country. About the JNU issue, he said action must be taken whoever is found abusing the law and rule of law must be prevailed. At a time when the country is inviting companies to invest in India, situation in Haryana is getting out of control, he said. About Telangana where his party is ruling, he said the state is under stress due to drought situation and demanded from the Centre to provide additional financial support. CPI (M) member Mohammed Salim said the President's Address did not have any direction and vision and it looks like a compendium of press releases of PIB. He also said that sedition charges have been imposed on students and the government is not able to understand the anger of the students. He said the HRD minister only forwarded the letters written about the Hyderabad Central University. Discussions are happening on nationalism, which happened during the times of Britishers rule, Salim said adding a country will suffer if it go with religion. "There is a difference between rule and ruler. You are saying that the country will run by rulers and not by rules...You talked about maximum governance and minimum government. But what did we saw," he said adding in JNU there was maximum government and at Patiala Court, "we saw minimum government".
"You can impose sedition charge on us, we are not afraid," he added. He also said that the President's Address did not mention about the soldiers died in Siachen. He said the Prime Minister has criticised the MNREGA for being a scheme of digging pits and now it seems he has "fallen" in the same pit. Salim said the problems of labours and farmers are increasing and the government was not able to do anything for that. Further he said that the government has claimed that they have distributed 6 crore LED bulbs but nobody knows where those bulbs are and there is also a mis match in the figures of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. "Government is running from its responsibilities," he added. Varaprasad Rao (YSR Congress) said that still lot of villages are under poverty...40 per cent do not have ration cards and unless that is done, poverty can not be eliminated... I do not think that anybody is getting into the nitty-gritty of the poorest of poor". He said that in the last 2 years, nothing has been changed and no specific steps have been taken for eradication of corruption or to punish the corrupt. He also demanded special status for Andhra Pradesh. "It is unfortunate that nothing has been done in this direction. The Central government should come to our rescue and declare special status," he added.
Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) said the government has done U-turn from all its promises and it has not done anything to bring back black money. "Youth have not get any employment. Prices of commodities like pulses are going up. 'Acche din nai aaye', because pulses prices are ruling at Rs 200 per kg," he said adding the Centre is doing discrimination with Bihar. He also said that JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar is innocent and he is being framed with wrong charges. He said the government will be impacted by "Dadri, Dal and Dalit". Upendra Kushwaha of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party said the representation of OBC, SC and STs are not good in the judiciary and "the country wants to know why is this situation". Attacking the government, Bhagwant Mann (AAP) said the BJP government asked for vote in the name on Digital India and bullet trains but this government is talking about "what to eat and what not to eat". He said the government has waived off loans of corporates but they did nothing for farmers and questioned "why the government is not implementing the suggestions of the report of Dr Swaminathan". "This is an anti dalit government. Rohith Vemula was murdered, he did not commit suicide...What is the relation with Pakistan. The Prime Minister has said that if they will cut one head, we will bring 15 but now he is drnking tea with them," he said. Sirajuddin Ajmal, All India United Democratic Front, said that although the good work of the government should be appreciated but the things that have not been done, need to pointed out. "Prices of essential commodities are rising. They are touching the sky. Millions of people are under poverty and the government is not doing anything. Communal riots have alo increased in teh last one year," he said adding these issues were not addressed in the President's Address. He also said that the minority status of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia University should not be disturbed. He said that floods situation in Assam is not good and something special should be done to deal with the situation. Anupriya Patel of NDA constituent Apna Dal commented on Rahul Gandhi's remark about "Fair and Lovely" scheme and said she has not heard of any such scheme instead there was a face cream with this name which Indian women use.
P Venugopal of AIADMK said the Centre should extend a helping hand to Chennai, which was hit hard by the torrential rains. "The Centre has not taken note of this tragedy...we still look forward to some package..it needs to be treated as national disaster," he said. Saugata Roy of Trinamool Congress said: "I cannot support the motion...You make the President's speech which he does not feel". "This speech came in the backgound of the event of Kanhaiya Kumar. Police repeatedly saying that Kanhaiya did not give seditious speech," he said, adding several people have said that Section 124A should be done away with and "I support this". Naga People's Front MP Neiphiu Rio lauded the government for the historic Naga Accord terming it as a "bold step". He said former Prime Ministers Morarji Desai, Narsimha Rao and especially Atal Behari Vajpayee understood the uniquness of the Naga history. Speaking against the motion, AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said although the government credo was 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas', this was only on paper, but not in practice. INLD MP Dushyant Chautala said the government should focus on giving quality education to people of the country. Raising the issue of MPLAD funds, JMM MP Vijay Kumar Hansdak said the either the limit of the funds should be increased to Rs 25 crore or else it should be completely stopped and instead the MPs should get a greater say in the Central schemes.