As Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Lok Sabha during the debate over the no-confidence motion against the government, the Parliament resembled a political rally, as BJP MPs raised chants of 'Modi, Modi' in the House. In his marathon address, which lasted for about an hour and a half, the prime minister lambasted the Opposition and enumerated the successes of the NDA government.
'No-confidence motion test of Opposition unity'
Narendra Modi began his address with a couplet — "Na manjhi, na rahbar, na haq mein hawaein/Hai kashti bhi jarjar...ye kaisa safar hai?" (What sort of a journey is this — without a navigator, or a guide, without favourable winds and with a creaky boat?) He said, "When the Opposition had introduced the no-confidence motion, why was it delaying a debate on it?" He later alleged that the trust vote was a test of Opposition unity, not of the government.
In his opening remarks, he urged the members of Parliament to vote in favour of the government saying, "After 30 years, a government with a full majority has been formed. I appeal to the members to support it."
He further observed, "Some people were asking as to why was the motion even moved. But I think it has at least exposed the kind of opposition some people have towards development. Today's debate showed how some people are surrounded by politics of negativity."
Most barbs aimed at Congress
While the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had moved the motion of no-confidence in Parliament, Modi reserved most of his lampooning for the Congress. Earlier, the Lok Sabha had seen much drama, as Congress president Rahul Gandhi had walked across the aisle to hug Modi immediately after a fiery speech in which he slammed the government on several counts. Rahul was also later seen winking after returning to his seat, leading to an expression of disapproval from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Modi initially looked nonplussed and did not stand up to hug him, but recovered quickly and called Gandhi back and patted him on the back. He also appeared to say a few words, which were inaudible. BJP MPs sitting behind Modi watched the brief interaction open-mouthed as the prime minister smiled at Gandhi as he walked back to his seat.
Later, making gestures with his hands and eyes to show Gandhi's 'wink', Modi said it was clear in front of everyone what the Congress leader's eyes did and the same was splashed across TV channels throughout the day. Responding to Rahul's statement that Modi was not able to look at him in the eye, the prime minister said, "He (Rahul) says I cannot see eye to eye with him. Yes, I cannot do so because I am not a naamdar. I come from a poor background, I am not privileged like you."
The prime minister also took the opportunity to criticise members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, saying, "It is widely known what happened to those who tried to see eye to eye with you. What happened to Chaudhary Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Deve Gowda and IK Gujral? What happened to Sharad Pawar and even to Pranab Mukherjee?...In the past too, those who tried to see eye to eye with you faced a similar fate, be it Sardar Patel or Subhash Chandra Bose."
The prime minister also listed out important schemes of the NDA government and said, "Earlier government could have given access to banks to the poor, could have electrified all villages, and so on. But they did not do so."
'Insult me, don't insult the army'
Narendra Modi responded to Rahul Gandhi's taunt referring to alleged unfulfilled promises as 'jumla strike.' The prime minister said that the Congress, by hinting at the surgical strikes across the Line of Control, was 'insulting the army.' He said, "If you want to abuse, you can abuse me, but don't disparage our soldiers."
The prime minister also responded to questions over alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.
Rahul Gandhi had earlier in the day accused the government of 'lying' to the nation on the issue of sharing details of the Rafale jet deal and had called the prime minister a 'bhagidaar' (collaborator) in cases of alleged corruption, not a 'chowkidaar' (guard). After his statement, France said a security agreement it concluded with India in 2008 legally binds the two countries to protect the classified information relating to operational capabilities of defence equipment. However, it did not specifically mention whether the classified information included details of the pricing, over which the Congress has made allegations.
Referring to this, Modi said, "I could not imagine that the truth can be crushed like this and the country can be misled in such a manner. It is unfortunate that both the countries had to issue statements on the issue."
PM assures development for Andhra Pradesh
Modi said the government stands with the people of Andhra Pradesh and their aspirations. "I want to assure people of Andhra Pradesh that they will not be left behind, and the government will ensure their welfare and development," he said.
During the entire speech, TDP MPs kept shouting "we want justice" in the House.
Modi said that when the TDP left the NDA government, he told its leader Chandrababu Naidu that he was being misled by the YSR Congress.
He also said then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee created three states, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, after talking to the people concerned and taking their consent.
"It was done peacefully. These states are peaceful and prospering. They are contributing in the development of the nation...On the other hand, the Congress divided Andhra Pradesh behind closed doors and their conduct then was shameful. Andhra Pradesh was divided for political gain," he added.
'Problem of NPAs is of Congress' making'
The prime minister accused the Congress of creating a large mess of NPAs in Indian banks, saying loans were given to select industrialists during the previous UPA rule.
"I want to tell you about the NPA problem. Much before internet banking, the Congress invented phone banking and this caused the NPA mess. A phone call would get loans for their cronies and the nation suffered," Modi said, replying to the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.
"Our government decided that the banks should come out into the open with NPAs, and we also took some decisions that would help the country in long run."
'NDA has the confidence of India'
After a marathon 12-hour debate, the NDA won the trust vote comfortably, getting 325 out of a total of 451 votes. Only 126 MPs voted in favour of the motion.
Subsequently, Narendra Modi gave a statement on Twitter, saying —
NDA has the confidence of the Lok Sabha and the 125 crore people of India.
I thank all the parties that have supported us in the vote today. Our efforts to transform India and fulfil the dreams of our youth continue. Jai Hind!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 20, 2018
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 21, 2018 00:34 AM