Tearing into the Prime Minister’s style of functioning, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi urged Narendra Modi Wednesday to “listen to the voice of our people… listen to what the country is trying to tell you”. He also told him that “you cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between our people”.
In a frontal attack on Modi in Lok Sabha during the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address, Rahul touched on issues ranging from the row over JNU to the government’s “fair and lovely” policy on black money to what he called the “chai pe charcha” approach towards Pakistan. “The country is gently trying to give him a message… The Prime Minister cannot run the country on only his opinion. The country is not the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is not the country.”
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Mentioning Slobodan Milosevic, former president of Yugoslavia, and Pakistan military ruler Yahya Khan as “people who saluted the cloth but destroyed the relationship and conversation between their people”, Rahul said: “The Prime Minister just has to listen to the message, listen to those around you, listen to Rajnath Singhji, listen to Advaniji, listen to Sushma Swarajji, listen to your MPs, listen to us across the aisle here… we are not your enemies, we do not hate you.”
Referring to the row over the JNU sedition case and the death of Dalit student Rohith Vemula, he said the Prime Minister must “especially listen to the voice of the next generation” and “allow them the dignity of their voice”.
Criticising him for his silence on JNU, especially the attack on students, teachers and journalists in court, he said: “Respecting the flag means respecting the opinion of every Indian. When I went to JNU, your ABVP workers waved black flags in my face. They taunted me, they abused me. I did not get angry. In fact, I felt proud that I still live in a country, in India where it is possible to be confronted by people who held a different opinion than my own… You cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between our people. You are not defending the flag when you frighten your own people into silence.”
Calling the one-time compliance window announced in the Budget as a “fair and lovely” scheme, Rahul said this was nothing but a move to turn black money into white.
“Finance Minister announced a fair and lovely scheme, saying it was Modiji’s scheme which would convert black money into white. In 2014, Modi had said I will finish black money, I will win fight against black money, I will jail anybody who has black money. But under the fair and lovely scheme, nobody will go to jail, nobody will be arrested, nobody will be asked anything. Go to Arun Jaitleyji, pay tax and turn black money into white,” he said.
The major part of his speech was directed at Modi. Turning to the treasury benches, he said: “\Whose opinion does the Prime Minister listen to? Does he respect your opinion? Does he respect the opinion of his ministers? You are silent… I understand the feeling within you and I want to bring that out. I want you to make him listen. But anyway, that will happen slowly. You have been taught by your teachers in the RSS that there is only one truth in the universe: your own, that nobody else’s opinion matters in the entire universe. This is all you have shown us in the last two years.”
Mocking the Prime Minister’s style of functioning, he said Modi did not listen to anyone’s opinion on issues like his visit to Pakistan and the Naga accord.
“Modiji called the Opposition and declared that he had solved the Naga problem. We were suddenly scared because none of the chief ministers of the North East states had a clue. The Home Minister himself had no idea… Where has that accord gone now? It has vanished into thin air… puff! Gone with the wind,” he said.
He accused him of “single-handedly destroying” six years of UPA work to put Pakistan in “a small cage” after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks with his visit to Pakistan.
He said the UPA “worked tirelessly to trap Pakistan… We isolated them internationally. We spent thousands and thousands of hours of diplomacy to turn them into a pariah nation… We trapped them in a very little cage. We convinced the world that they were a global supporter of terrorism.”
“What does the Prime Minister do? He decides to have a cup of tea with Nawaz Sharif… Without any thought, without any vision, he decides to take a detour to Pakistan and have a chai pe charcha. The Prime Minister, single-handedly, destroyed six years of our work,” he said.