Terming President Ram Nath Kovind’s election as a “significant milestone” in the party’s journey, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged BJP MPs to launch programmes that would keep the “nationalist and patriotic fervour” alive. Addressing party MPs at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, hours before Kovind took oath as the 14th Indian President, Modi said: “The journey, which was started by Syama Prasad Mookerjee and during which many lakh of people sacrificed everything, has reached a significant milestone today as the new president takes oath.” Mookerjee founded the Jana Sangh, the BJP’s predecessor.
The PM’s comments assume significance as Kovind is the first BJP leader to occupy the highest constitutional position and his Dalit identity have been underlined by the party, which has worked relentlessly to win over the community since coming to power in 2014. Modi also reminded his MPs about the success of Tiranga Yatra, held between August 15 and August 22 last year, and asked them to hold similar programmes between August 9, the anniversary of the Quit India movement, and August 15.
The MPs have been asked to hold a 15-day long ‘samkalp yatra’ (journey for pledge), starting from Independence Day, so as to ensure an improved quality of life for people in all parts of the country by 2022, when the country would celebrate 75 years of freedom. “The MPs have been asked to come up with new ideas that would keep the spirit of nationalism alive. There should be programmes and campaigns to remind youngsters about the sacrifices of our predecessors and freedom fighters,” a BJP leader said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters that Modi also asked law-makers to take up the three causes for the welfare of the poor and to promote social harmony and good governance. Speaking at the meeting, Modi said India has attained new heights in the 70 years since it gained Independence in 1947, and added that it was certain to emerge as a strong world power by 2022. “He said we should work for the emergence of a New India by the time we celebrate 75th year of Independence,” said a party MP.
The prime minister also urged his MPs to be present for the vice-presidential poll on August 5, a Saturday, and avoid mistakes which might make their votes invalid. In an apparent reference to absence of MPs from the two houses, he asked them to be present when parliamentary proceedings are on. Referring to the uproarious scenes in the Lok Sabha on Monday in which six Congress MPs were suspended from the house for five days, Modi said it was “a shameful behaviour” from the Opposition.
At the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed his concern over “misinformation being spread about GST.” He said officials from the ministry would be present in Parliament every day during the monsoon session and urged the MPs to approach them for any clarification on GST.