A day after Opposition leaders gathered at the 94th birthday celebrations of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and attacked the NDA government on several issues, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu termed their criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government “laughable”.
In a statement released on Sunday, Naidu said the Opposition’s criticism reflected their “unbridgeable disconnect” with the people and added that they were frustrated due to Modi’s growing appeal and the “steady political expansion of the BJP”.
Responding to the Congress charge of “authoritarianism”, Naidu said the party had forgotten the days of Emergency and the “dubious theory” of “Indira is India, India is Indira”. He added that the Congress had forgotten “denigration of the dignity and authority of the institution of the Prime Minister during the 10-year UPA rule” and “gross abuse of power for personal and family gains”.
Defending the government’s performance, he said Modi’s “decisive and courageous” use of authority is “evident” in the fall in corruption, improvement in governance, empowerment of the vulnerable and India’s “growing stature” internationally.
He said that as Opposition leaders were “getting trailed for their deeds of corruption”, they were finding the Prime Minister authoritarian, “because such meaningful use of authority of the Prime Minister is a clear break from the forgettable legacy of the Congress and Communists.”
“Will any authoritarian Prime Minister all the time look forward to and promote engagement with the people of the country?” he asked. Modi, he claimed, was assertive, not authoritarian, as he doesn’t have a “personal agenda unlike the others the country has seen”.
Responding to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s remark, in which he said the Opposition will not let the RSS or Modi “impose their One Idea of India”, he said, “Yes, the Prime Minister firmly believes in One Idea of India and that being a developed India built collectively by all the Indians, irrespective of their colour, creed, caste, religion and region.”
Naidu added that since the Congress believed in different Indias, they had pursued politics guided by non-secular ideas and cleaved communities, resulting in “disastrous consequences”. On the Congress’s demand that the government come out with a final plan on Kashmir, he said, “Perhaps, the final solution they have in mind is that let Kashmir be given to Pakistan so that we all live in peace.”
“Is it for this that hundreds of our brave soldiers gave up their lives…People can never forgive the Congress for this mindset which is now a part of their official publication,” Naidu said, referring to a map of Kashmir in a booklet distributed by the Congress, in which a part of the Valley was named “Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
Naidu also called the Congress the “founder” of dynasty politics in India and added that it had inspired other parties on this front. On the row over the new cattle trade rules, he said the issue was under consideration, but added that the government “never interferes in the food habits of the people”.
He said the NDA was united, while the Opposition was divided, “We are confident, they are diffident.”