The Congress and BJP exchanged fire in the first debate in Rajya Sabha after the general elections on Tuesday. In his maiden speech as Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad asserted that the Narendra Modi government had “copied” the schemes and policies of its predecessor and listed them out as its agenda in the President’s address. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit back, saying the NDA government has inherited an economy that is in the shambles.
Jaitley, also the leader of the House, said the investment cycle had been broken and argued the UPA time witnessed domestic capital flying out of the country and infrastructure development coming to a halt. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh was present during the debate.
“We don’t know whether to support or oppose. Because there is nothing in it which can be supported,” Azad said, beginning his speech on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address. “Even for copying one should be intelligent.” He said the Modi government’s agenda was a copy of the UPA government’s policies and schemes, of which 90 per cent have already been implemented.
Even the slogan “sabka saath sabka vikas” was a translation of the “inclusive development” model of the Manmohan government, he said. Claiming the NDA government is in its infancy, he said, “An infant obviously will not know what to do.”
Jaitley hit back, saying the UPA government committed the mistake of “buying its own propaganda and believing what they put out in advertisements”. BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the era of dynastic politics was over. While reiterating his praise for Singh, Jaitley said he would have done better had he been given the “last word” and the right to overrule others.
Jaitley also spoke about the Lokpal Bill’s counterproductive rules and indicated that it will be undone soon. Azad indicated the Congress is ready to move on after the election defeat. “People’s verdict, power and money do not remain permanently with anyone. It keeps revolving,” he said. Reminding the BJP it should not become arrogant, he said, “We too had got the mandate of 415 Lok Sabha seats… Whoever took pride over mandate lost the chair and got finished.”
Attacking the BJP over its promise of welfare of minorities, Azad said, “This is like music to my ears… BJP talking about minorities… We have yearned for years to hear this.” He wondered it was a change of heart or just lip service.
BSP’s S C Mishra targeted the Centre for remaining silent on reservation in promotions for Scheduled Castes in government jobs. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said he was pained to see that in the House, there was neither magnanimity in victory nor humility in defeat.