Rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘one nation, one election’ proposal, the Congress on Wednesday said the BJP’s idea of “one election, one face, one ideology” is not acceptable to India and asked the ruling party to desist from “dividing the country for votes”.
Taking part in the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma asked the BJP to recognise efforts made by previous governments since Independence and not disregard them. He listed out the years when IITs and IIMs were founded, Pokhran nuclear tests and space programmes to underline contributions of past prime ministers to question the assertion in the President’s address that the foundations of India’s journey towards development were laid in 2014.
“Don’t think the country started after 2014 and not after 1947 when India achieved Independence… respect and accept India’s diversity…. The achievements made by India are by its scientists and why do you not recognise them,” he asked.
He asked if, as the President had said, the foundation of a developed India was laid in 2014, “which India was it whose foundations were laid on August 15 1947, when people like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad etc were alive?”
“Jawaharlal Nehru spent the maximum time in British jails because he did not choose to write apology letters to get out… during the British-era all the states where Congress governments fell, Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League formed the government supported by the British,” he said. The reference was to RSS ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who had reportedly written an apology letter to the British government for release from the Cellular Jail in Andaman. Sharma also read out excerpts of Patel’s and Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statements on Nehru.
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Rejecting the idea of ‘one nation, one election’ mentioned in the President’s address, he said, “There is federal polity in the country, there is diversity. Our experience speaks that when governments have fallen and alternative ones have not been formed, mid-term elections have been held.”
“You cannot have a forced majority, you cannot impose your decision. You cannot take away the rights of states on elections. When governments fall in states and alternative governments are not formed, will you impose President’s rule then? This will not happen… I understand your thought. There should be one country, but one election, one face, one name, one ideology is not acceptable to India,” Sharma said.
Sharma, who is deputy leader of the Congress in the Upper House, alleged that no prime minister has ever fought elections over the victory of armed forces as Modi did. He recalled how Indira Gandhi after the victory of Indian forces in the Bangladesh Liberation War said it was the victory of humanity and not hers, for which then opposition leader Vajpayee had lauded her.
Former tourism minister K J Alphons said it is only during the Modi government’s tenure that minorities in the government have felt secure. “Before 2014, there were instances of Christians being beaten up, churches being burnt. Have any churches been burnt since Prime Minister Modi took charge?” He described the prime minister as the biggest brand ambassador for Indian tourism and called upon the opposition to “celebrate achievements of the country”.
After his speech, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav said, “Such a competent man, he should be made minister again.”
Abdul Wahab of IUML accused the BJP of starting a “new branch of engineering — election engineering”.