New Delhi: Continuing his attack on the principal opposition Congress for the second day in a row, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into the party in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, in a no-holds-barred political address that came ahead of the assembly polls in five states.
In his speech, PM Modi held the Congress responsible for the massacre of Sikhs in Punjab, keeping Goans waiting for 15 years to get liberated from the Portuguese, and humiliating the family of “Goa’s daughter”, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar.
The reference to Punjab and Goa came ahead of assembly elections in the two states.
The PM also claimed that Mahatma Gandhi wanted to disband the Congress because he knew what would happen if it continued in power, drawing huge uproar from the party leaders who walked out of the Rajya Sabha.
Moreover, the PM responded to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism that his government was attacking India’s federal structure, saying the Congress has attacked federalism in the country on numerous occasions in the past.
“Had Congress not been there, there would have been no massacre of Sikhs, Punjab wouldn’t have burnt in flames of terrorism for years, Kashmiri Pandits need not have left Kashmir,” Modi said in reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks to President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to Parliament.
In the nearly 90-minute speech, Modi also blamed India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s government for its “wrong” policies that he alleged resulted in Portuguese control over Goa for 15 years after India got its independence.
“When satyagrahis were being shot in Goa, Nehru ji refused to send the Army to liberate Goa… He did not do it because he was concerned about his international image… He left the people of Goa helpless… Goans will never forget this,” Modi said.
The PM also spoke about “Goa’s daughter”, singer Lata Mangeshkar, who died two days ago, and how her family was mistreated during the Congress’ rule in Goa.
“People should know… Lata ji’s brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar was removed from All India Radio eight days after he recited some verses from a poem written by Veer Savarkar… This is the freedom of expression that the opposition talks about,” he said.
In the same vein, Modi said that legendary lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri was sent to jail in 1949 for criticising the former PM Jawaharlal Nehru.
Mahatma Gandhi and dynastic parties
PM Modi drew the opposition’s ire when he said Mahatma Gandhi wanted the Congress to be disbanded after Independence.
“It is said what would happen if Congress was not there? Had Congress ceased to be, as Mahatma Gandhi wished, democracy would have been free from dynasty. India would have walked on the path of national resolutions, instead of taking to foreign view. Had Congress not been there, then there would have been no blot of Emergency,” Modi said.
The PM also blamed the Congress for putting dynasty before everything, claiming that dynastic parties are the biggest threat to India’s democracy. “When a family is the supreme in any party, then the first casualty is that of talent,” he said.
Blaming the Congress for obstructing the country’s development, the PM added: “They are now objecting to ‘nation’. If the idea of ‘nation’ is unconstitutional, then why is your party called Indian National Congress? Change the name to Federation of Congress.”
Modi was referring to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s speech in the Lok Sabha last week, where he highlighted that India was a “Union of States”.
“India is described in the Indian Constitution as a Union of States and not as a nation. One cannot rule over the people of a state in India. Different languages and cultures cannot be suppressed. It is a partnership, not a kingdom,” Gandhi had said.
Perfect example of federalism during pandemic
Modi said India displayed the perfect example of federalism during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting that he held 23 meetings with state chief ministers and sought their suggestions.
But even during those trying times, when humanity was struggling to deal with the pandemic, attempts were made to speak to some political parties to convince them to boycott all-party meetings, Modi alleged.
The PM made a special mention of Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in this context.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Sharad Rao (Sharad Pawar). He said it’s not a decision of UPA and he will speak to as many people as he can. He, along with TMC and other parties, attended the meeting… The crisis was on the entire humankind, still, you boycotted the meeting,” Modi said, referring to the Congress.
Congress dismissed over 50 state govts during its rule
Taking his scathing attack on the Congress and other opposition parties further for talking about how federalism is under attack, the PM said one shouldn’t forget the time when the government of T. Anjaiah, CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh, was dismissed by the Congress-ruled Centre because the then-PM wanted him to step down.
“Karnataka CM Veerendra Patil was removed when he was ill,” Modi said.
The PM also referred to the time he was Gujarat CM. “I know how I was humiliated… But even then I used to always say that Gujarat should develop because India has to develop,” he said.
The PM also blamed the Congress for imposing President’s Rule 100 times in the past and disbanding elected governments in states.
“The Congress dismissed over 50 state governments during its rule at the Centre… The Congress high command policy is to discredit, destabilise and dismiss state governments,” he said.
The National Democratic Alliance government is not only for “cooperative federalism” but “cooperative competitive federalism”, the PM added.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)