'You can't think beyond a few people': PM attacks Congress
In a stinging attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the Opposition party thinks only the Nehru-Gandhi family had contributed to the country's progress and mockingly quipped that it had "risen" so much that it had lost connect with the ground situation.
Replying to the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address in the Lok Sabha, he also slammed the Congress for imposing Emergency on this day 44 years back and said the period saw how institutions like the judiciary were insulted and people were jailed by the Indira Gandhi government at will.
He also responded to Leader of Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary's dare as to why UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi had not been jailed if their party was "corrupt", saying it was not done because "this is not Emergency" where anybody could be put behind the bars by the government.
"Some members asked - why is person 'A' or B not in jail. I want to tell them, this is not the 'Emergency' where governments jailed people at will," Modi said, adding these decisions are taken by the courts and courts will decide on jail and bail.
In his 65-minute speech, during which there was no major disruption for a change from the recent instances, he asserted that there is no place for corruption in the country and "our fight against corruption will continue".
"A few people were constantly asking during the debate - 'Who did it? Who did it?' I want to ask them - today is 25th June. Who imposed the Emergency? Who trampled the spirit of the Constitution, gagged the media and bullied the judiciary? We cannot forget those dark days," Modi said.
Describing Emergency imposed on June 25, 1975 as a blot on the country, he recalled that the entire country had been turned into a jail at that time, "just to see that one family did not lose power".
Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said it was "flying so high that it had lost connect with the ground".
"Aapki unchai aapko mubarak ho... Mai chahta hun aap aur unchai pe jao, aur unche, aur unche, aur unche (I congratulate you for rising so high. I wish that you keep on rising, more and more).
"We are not in competition with you. We are small people," he told the Congress benches.
Targeting the Congress, Modi said: "There are some people who feel only a few contributed to the country's progress. They only want to hear those few names and ignore others."
"Did those in power from 2004 to 2014 ever talk about the good work of Atal ji (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee)? Did they ever speak about the good work of (former Prime Minister P.V.) Narasimha Rao ji? Even during this debate in the Lok Sabha, the same people did not speak of any good work done by Manmohan Singh ji.
"But we think differently, we feel each and every citizen has worked for India's progress," he said.
Quoting an extract of a speech made by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru during the release of the Congress manifesto for first Lok Sabha polls in 1951, Modi said: "India has shown to the world that duties take precedence over rights. Rights flow out of duties. Can we take forward this thought articulated by a great man?"
Modi also targeted the Congress over its approach towards Muslims while insisting that his own government's effort to end the practice of instant triple talaq should not be linked to religion.
He said a former Congress minister had stated recently that the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi was of the opinion that it was not the job of the Congress party to reform the Muslims and that "if they (Muslims) wanted to stay in a gutter, then let them be there".
He did not name the leader but was apparently referring to a purported interview by Arif Mohammad Khan in connection with Shah Bano case.
The Congress members objected to Modi's contention but he said he would share the Youtube link of the interview with them.
"The Congress missed opportunities on Uniform Civil Code and Shah Bano case. Now again there is an opportunity, and we have brought a bill for women's empowerment. Please do not link it to religion," he said.
The Prime Minister also said that the "landmark occasions" of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary and India's 75 years of independence should be celebrated "with great vigour".
Modi also stressed the need for water conservation which is "everybody's responsibility".
"Water conservation is everybody's responsibility. Our government created Jal Shakti ministry in view of the situation. I urge all, including NGOs, to spread awareness about the steps for water conservation," he said.
He recalled that he had to once resort to hunger strike for Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.
"When we talk about water resources, I remember Babasaheb Ambedkar. It was Ambedkar who worked diligently on waterways and irrigation...
"Sardar Sarovar Dam was the brainchild of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But, work on this dam kept getting delayed. As Gujarat Chief Minister, I had to sit on a hunger strike for this project. After the NDA came to power, the pace of work increased significantly and it is benefiting many people," he said.
The Prime Minister also called for collective endeavour to make India a $5 trillion economy.
"Why cannot India become a 5 trillion dollar economy? Let it be our collective endeavour to work towards it. We have made a lot of fun of 'Make in India' programme, but isn't it true that this needs to happen," he said.
He said that promoting tourism and improving tourism infrastructure augurs well for economic prosperity. "There is so much about India that the world wants to see."
Modi also thanked the voters for electing a stable government for the second time.
"After many decades, the country has given a strong mandate. They have brought back a government by giving it more seats. In today's atmosphere, India's vibrant democracy is a moment to be proud of," he said.
Modi said that the Lok Sabha election results showed that "more than themselves, the people of India are thinking about the good of the nation. And this spirit is wonderful".
The Prime Minister said he does not view elections as to who won and who lost. "For me, what is satisfying is the opportunity to serve 130 crore Indians and work to make a positive difference in their lives."
Modi said that the NDA took office again a few weeks ago "and I am happy to say we have taken numerous pro-people decisions".
"The decisions we have taken will benefit farmers, traders, youngsters and other sections of society. A lot of the major promises we made, we have begun fulfilling them," he said.
"It is important that the country progresses, every Indian is empowered and our nation has modern infrastructure. We believe in public welfare and modern infrastructure," the Prime Minister added.IANS