Narendra Modi slams Congress' 'arrogance' in Rajya Sabha speech, says party can neither accept defeat nor digest win

A day after mounting a bitter attack on the Opposition for obstructing triple talaq bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, saying it insulted voters of the country by questioning the veracity of EVMs and the massive victory of the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

Replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address, Modi said there should be a limit to the arrogance of the Opposition party, and that it had put voters in the dock by questioning their verdict. He said there is a problem with the Congress as it does not accept defeat, neither can it digest victory.

"I was saddened when some leaders said - the BJP and allies won the elections but the nation lost, democracy lost. I want to clearly say that such statements are unfortunate. Why question the wisdom of voters?," Modi questioned.

He slammed the Congress party stating, "Does their arrogance have no limits? Did democracy lose in Wayanad and Raebareli..?" Modi asked.

"Do our friends in the Congress party feel that if they do not win, India does not win? Are India and the Congress party the same thing? No, they are not. It is important to respect our electoral process and democracy," Modi said.

"Due to narrow-mindedness and perversity of thoughts, if some people do not accept mandate of the people by saying that 'you may have won the election but the country has lost', there can be nothing more insulting for our democracy than this," he said.

 Narendra Modi slams Congress arrogance in Rajya Sabha speech, says party can neither accept defeat nor digest win

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Rajya Sabha. YouTube screengrab from Rajya Sabha TV

Noting that the Congress was not able to win even a single Lok Sabha seat in 17 states, he said it was time for the Congress to introspect and "accept defeat". "My friends in the Congress, they have not been able to digest victory. They have not been able to accept defeat. I do not consider this to be a healthy sign in a democracy," he said.

The prime minister also hit out the Congress for questioning EVMs. The prime minister said the world must know more about "our electoral processes, as the scale is immense. Some people kept talking about the EVM issue in this House."

"EVMs were first used in 1982. In 1988, Parliament gave them legal sanction. In 1992, the Congress government framed rules for their use. So far, 113 Assembly elections and 4 Lok Sabha elections have been held using them. Courts have given positive verdicts on them. Why are questions still being raised every time we win elections?," Modi said.

"There have been so many polls with EVMs and parties that are represented in the Rajya Sabha have got opportunities to govern in some state or the other after elections conducted through EVMs. Then, why question EVMs today?," Modi asked.

In the backdrop of Lok Sabha elections, the Opposition led by the Congress party raised serious questions on EVMs and sought the replacement of EVMs by ballot paper.

The Opposition questioned the credibility of EVMs, which were introduced in India with much success in 2000. The contentions of the Opposition parties were rejected by several high courts of the country and the Supreme Court, apart from the Election Commission of India (ECI), which on multiple occasions issued detailed clarifications on how it was impossible to hack an EVM.

Modi said, "This trend to blame EVMs for losses is a new sickness that is spreading. You (Opposition) claim credit for everything done in the past, but isn't this too something you introduced? Then why do you oppose EVMs now?"

"I want to tell them- there was a time when we were 2 MPs in Parliament. People mocked us. However, we worked harder and won the trust of people. We did not make excuses and blame the polling booth. You too should probably look within," Modi told the Congress.

He also lauded the Election Commission for conducting the mammoth polling exercise successfully.

"Let us appreciate how our electoral processes have improved. In the 1950s, the polling process took so much time and violence and booth capturing were common in some places. Now, the news is about rising turnout. This is a healthy sign," he noted.

The prime minister said, "We are seeing this same attitude when it comes to discussing 'One Nation, One Election'."

"Yes, people may not like the idea or have inputs on this. But, it is important to present these ideas and have discussions on the subject," he said.

Modi wondered why Opposition parties were opposing the idea of 'New India', asking them not to thrust the people of the country towards negativity by opposing it.

"Do we need that Old India where Cabinet proposals were torn in press conferences or where there were scams all over and support was extended to tukde tukde gang? Do we need that Old India where there was corruption?," he said, adding that the people of the country were not ready to take India behind. He urged Opposition members to take the country forward and said that he expected them to contribute in doing so.

Modi said that those opposing EVMs are also opposed to digital transactions, Aadhaar, GST, Bhim App.

"Why such negativity? This negativity was one of the chief reasons why some parties have not been able to win people's trust," he said.

The prime minister also said that he was saddened by the lynching incident in Jharkhand. "The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too. But, some people in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state? None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand," he said.

Modi noted that whether it is Jharkhand, or West Bengal or Kerala, incidents of violence should be treated in the same manner and perpetrators of violence should get a lesson that the entire country is one on this issue.

At one point Modi also took a jibe towards Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. Quoting a couplet, Modi said, "I think Ghulam Nabi Azad is having blurred vision, maybe he is seeing everything from a political viewpoint. Ghalib said something for such people 'ta umr Ghalib ye bhool karta raha, dhool chehre pe thi, aaina saaf karta raha (I have made this mistake all through my life, I kept cleaning the mirror but it was my own face that was dusty)"

But lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar pointed out on social media that the couplet was never written by Ghalib.

Apart from the Jharkhand lynching, Modi also broke his silence on the encephalitis epidemic in Bihar. He said, "The deaths in Bihar due to acute encephalitis syndrome are unfortunate and a matter of shame for us. We have to take this seriously. I am in constant touch with the state government and I am sure we will collectively come out of this crisis soon," he said.

The reaction comes after a few parliamentarians, including Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, had criticised the government for the absence of discussion on the two issues.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 26, 2019 18:21:17 IST