In his speeches to both houses of Parliament, Modi spoke about Congress’s perceived slights to Andhra leaders & Sikhs, in a bid to reduce TDP & SAD’s anger.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches in both houses of Parliament Wednesday seemed to have a clear motive – to appeal to the BJP’s miffed allies to stick together against the old common enemy, the Congress. There was also another message – to states going to the polls this year.
Reaching out to TDP
For two days now, MPs of the Telugu Desam Party, a BJP ally, have been protesting in the Lok Sabha over demands for a package for Andhra Pradesh post the UPA government-approved bifurcation of the state in 2014. There have been enough indications that the TDP’s relationship with the BJP is quickly reaching breaking point.
The PM, however, reminded the TDP of its own history, and how the grand old party had slighted Andhra leaders in the past. As an example, he recounted the embarrassment faced by the Congress’s official candidate Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, in the 1969 Presidential election, when, at the behest of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, most Congress members voted for independent candidate V.V. Giri. Reddy took retirement and only came back in 1977 to become President of India as a Janata Party-backed candidate.
He also took a dig at former PM Rajiv Gandhi, recalling a 1982 incident when Andhra Pradesh chief minister T. Anjaiah came to receive then Congress general secretary Rajiv Gandhi at the Hyderabad airport, and Gandhi publicly called Anjaiah a buffoon. “When Rajiv Gandhi landed in Hyderabad and a Dalit leader came to welcome him, he insulted him publicly. Is that the democracy that Congress talks about?” said Modi.
“N.T. Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam Party was born out of those insults to the people of Andhra Pradesh,” said the PM, in a clear outreach to his NDA partner.
The PM also tried to discredit the Congress for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the creation of Telangana, accusing the party of doing so for political gains without any preparation.
“When we speak about creating new states, we remember the manner in which Atal Bihari Vajpayee created Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh,” he said.
Message to Akalis
Two days after the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has raised the pitch for giving due respect to NDA allies, the Prime Minister also gave it a history lesson, while also rebutting Congress allegations of the BJP being “undemocratic”.
“How did the Congress act in Kerala, how did they treat the Akali Dal in Punjab, how did they behave in Tamil Nadu? Why did Congress dismiss so many state governments at their will? This is no commitment to democracy,” he said.
In 1982, the Indira Gandhi government at the Centre had dismissed the Akali Dal government in Punjab for failing to address the problem of Sikh terrorism effectively.
In his Rajya Sabha speech, the PM also raised the 1984 riots in order to firmly side with the Akali Dal.
“What kind of India do you want? An India where thousands of Sikhs are murdered?”
Eye on Karnataka
Targeting Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha, and turning his focus to the poll-bound state of Karnataka, Modi recalled the 12th century Kannada philosopher-reformer Basavanna.
“Kharge-ji, aren’t you from Karnataka? At least remember Basava. You should know him, he established the Anubhav Mandap in the 12th century. Everything he did was done democratically, and women’s empowerment was his top priority. This was democracy in India in the 12th century. Have you forgotten that, Kharge-ji?” Modi said.
In his speech, Kharge had accused the BJP government of taking away the rights of women and children.