In a point-by-point rebuttal to allegations levelled against him by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the Nehru-Gandhi family “thekedar” (contractor) and “saudagar” (trader), and said the no-confidence motion against his government by “some people” was only to spread instability in the country through “negative politics”.
Replying to the debate in Lok Sabha Friday, Modi took a swipe at the Congress and the Opposition arraigned against his party and government: “I pray to God to give you the strength to bring a no-confidence motion in 2024 also.”
Sending a message to others in the Opposition ranks, Modi used Rahul Gandhi’s remark that he (the Prime Minister) could not look him in the eye. He said this was true because anyone who had dared to “look straight into their eyes had been put down by the family”.
He called the no-trust motion the work of Congress arrogance and slammed the party for not “trusting” the programmes and initiatives of his government and institutions like the Chief Justice of India, Reserve Bank of India and EVMs.
Modi, who spoke for well over 90 minutes, tore into the Gandhis: “Those who don’t have confidence in themselves cannot trust anyone.” “No-confidence motion is actually a force test for the Congress to secure their luck in the 2019 election. To remove one Modi, see who all are they trying to bring together.”
He also hit back at Rahul Gandhi for his act of walking across the aisle, and asking him to get up for a hug. Why was he in such a hurry, the Prime Minister said, to occupy his seat. Looking at Gandhi, he said “only the 125 crore people of this country” get to decide who sits on the Prime Minister’s chair.
Responding to the charge that he had become a “bhagidhar” (partner) and not a “chowkidar” (watchman), Modi said this too was true, because he was now a “bhagidari” in growth and development of the people of the country. “Today in the House, I was told that I cannot even look straight in the eye. How can I? I am a humble, poor son of a poor mother. How can I dare to look straight into the eyes of a ‘naamdaar’? I am a ‘kaamdaar… I am proud to say, I am a chowkidar and a bhagidar but not a thekedar (contractor) or a saudagar (trader). I am a bhagidar of the country’s development,” he said.
He ridiculed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for her reported remark that the Opposition could have the numbers to push the no-trust motion. “See her arrogance. I was reminded about 1999. She stood outside Rashtrapati Bhavan and said, we have 272 and more are joining us. She destabilised Atalji’s (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government and never formed one herself.”
Trying to split Opposition ranks while tearing into the Congress, Modi said: “What did the Congress do to Charan Singhji, what did they do to Chandra Shekharji, what did they do to Deve Gowdaji, what did they do to I K Gujralji? They throw the rope of support initially and pull down them later… Twice, the Congress was involved in buying votes with the power of notes.” He said the Gandhis had humiliated all those who had dared to be their equal. He took the names of Subhash Chandra Bose, Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Sardar Patel, Pranab Mukherjee and Sharad Pawar.
On Gandhi’s remark of “jumla strike”, Modi, referring to the surgical strike, said the Congress should not “humiliate” the armed forces. “You can abuse me as much as you want. Stop insulting the jawans of India. I will not tolerate this insult to our armed forces.”
Without naming Gandhi, Modi said due to his “careless” allegation on the Rafale deal, both India and France had to release statements. There is complete transparency in the deal, he said. “I cannot believe that truth can be twisted, that too repeatedly on issues like national security. This nation will not forgive you,” he said.