Responding to the BJP’s combative attitude towards opposition Congress, the leader of the grand old party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Tuesday asserted that the opposition ranks should not be taken for granted because of their depleted strength.
“You think we are 40 people and you are a strong 300 and so suppress (us). Pandavas may have been very less in number, but they were never intimidated by a hundred Kauravas,” Kharge said. He was the first from the opposition to speak on the motion of thanks on the President’s Speech.
Earlier, moving the motion, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy tried to corner the Congress and suggested that the grand old party did some introspection. “We never imagined that we will have to welcome a national party as a regional party in this House…What prompted this to happen? Why this mandate?…People have punished you for your misrule of 65 years,” Rudy said, while initiating a debate on the motion of thanks on the President’s address. Kharge responded, “If you can go up from two (BJP tally in 1984 elections) to over 200, we will also go up from 44 to over 400. We have got support of 10.45 crore voters.”
Kharge also took a dig at the President’s Speech sounding like BJP’s election campaign rhetoric saying that “election speeches alone cannot fill empty stomachs” and sought to project that 10 years of Congress-led UPA regime has done a lot for the poor.
Referring to news reports suggesting that Rajasthan government was planning to relax labour laws to help industry, the Congress leader charged that the BJP’s intentions have started spilling out in public and termed the party as pro-Capitalists. “This tendency shows that this government is not in favour of the poor but the rich. You have hatred against programmes meant for the poor,” Kharge charged, and highlighted UPA’s schemes like MGNREGA, Food Security law, and Right to Education. The Congress leader, who hails from Dalit community, said that the President’s speech lacked concerns for the untouchables. He downplayed initiatives announced as “repackaging” of old schemes from the UPA regime and charged that the promises outlined in the speech were not time bound.
Tuesday also saw PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti pitching for making Jammu and Kashmir a model of SAARC cooperation and said that the people of the state face “trust deficit” which has to be removed. “Instead of discussing the Kashmir issue in international fora, it should be discussed on the floor of the House,” she said.
At Tri Nagar, Smriti Irani centered her speech around Modi, with over 10 references in 11-minute extempore.