In his over an hour long reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks to President’s address in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday touched upon a wide range of issues, including Jharkhand mob lynching case, Bihar encephalitis deaths, allegation over EVM tampering and others.
Jharkhand mob lynching
PM Narendra Modi said though the mob lynching incident in Jharkhand had deeply pained him and he wishes the guilty to be punished, it is entirely wrong on the Opposition’s part to call the state ‘a hub of lynching’. He also said that all kinds of violence, whether in Jharkhand or West Bengal or Kerala, should be treated as same and law should take its course.
“The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too. Guilty should get the severest punishment but for this the entire state has been pronounced guilty and everyone put in the dock, which is not right,” he said. “Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state,” he said, adding, “None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand,” he said.
Modi, who had received flak from the Opposition over his ‘silence’ on the lynching incident in the BJP-ruled Jharkhand, said, “security of every citizen is our constitutional duty”.
Bihar encephalitis deaths
On the death of more than 130 children in Bihar where BJP and its ally JDU are in power, PM Modi said, “In modern times, such a situation is a matter of pain as well as shame for all of us. This is the biggest failure in the last seven decades and we should take it seriously.”
The PM also said that he is in constant touch with the Bihar government and hoped that the crisis will be over soon.
On Opposition’s remarks on farmers
Targeting the Congress for calling their loss in the general elections as “a defeat of the country, democracy and farmers”, PM Modi said that the opposition party is heaping “insult” to the public mandate.
Congress leaders, he said, are saying farmers were sold out to Rs 2,000 cash dole and the elections were won with the help of media. “This is an insult to farmers. A farmer is not available for sale. Farmers cannot be insulted. The use of language that they were sold for Rs 2,000 is an insult to 15 crore farmers,” he said.
Stalling of bills in Rajya Sabha
Modi criticised the Opposition for stalling the bills in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have the majority. Quoting former president Pranab Mukherjee, the Prime Minister said that the Opposition has a right to question but not obstruct. He also sought protection from the Chair to help government get through important legislations.
At least 22 bills had lapsed in the Rajya Sabha that were passed by the 16th Lok Sabha, including Triple Talaq and making Aadhaar an optional ID proof for obtaining mobile sim cards and opening bank accounts.
The Prime Minister said the upper house is part of the federal structure of the country and the members must introspect and cooperate in the framing of crucial legislations. “Parties which obstructed constructive government work in Rajya Sabha have been punished by the voters in the recent general elections,” the Prime Minister said.
“We don’t have majority in Rajya Sabha but verdict of the people should not be throttled in the House,” he added.
On opposition’s call for return to old India
Taking a jibe at Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, PM Modi said some people demanded a return to ‘Old India’ instead of the ‘New India’ where technology is being used to ease lives and end corruption.
“Do they want an Old India where Cabinet decision is torn in a press conference, where Navy assets are used for picnic, where scams are order of the day, where ‘tukde-tukde’ (separatist) gang gets support of leaders, where middlemen are required for railway tickets, MP’s letter is needed for gas connection, where interviews are held for low-level jobs such as peon in a government department and there is rampant inspector raj,” he said.
“The citizens of the country are not willing to go back to the old India,” he said, adding the ‘new India’ is destined to come.
On EVM tampering allegations
On the Opposition’s repeated claims about EVM tampering, PM Modi said those who are opposing EVMs are not only opposed to EVMs alone but technology itself. “There have been so many polls with EVMs and parties that are represented in the Rajya Sabha have got opportunities to govern in some state or the other after elections conducted through EVMs. Then, why question EVMs today,” PM Modi said.
“Some people kept talking about the EVM issue in this House. I want to tell them- there was a time when we were two MPs in the Parliament. People mocked us. But, we worked harder and won the trust of people. We did not make excuses and blame the polling booth,” he added.
He also said that only two parties went to the Election Commission on its invitation to verify the authenticity of EVMs. “But, why did the rest of the parties questioning the EVMs not even go, they should answer,” he said.
The Prime Minister also took the Congress to task for its “clamour for credit” saying why it was not doing so in case of National Register for Citizens (NRC) as it was first agreed to by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Assam Accord.
NRC is not a vote bank issue for this government. It is an issue of national security, he said, adding the move to list citizens and identify outsiders was done on the orders of the Supreme Court.
PM Modi said while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was a Congress leader, it is his party’s belief that had he been the first prime minister of the country, the J&K issue would not have existed.
Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said Patel was their party leader and they should at least once go to the Statue of Unity in Gujarat to pay homage.
The party should in fact hold their Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting there, he said. “Azad saheb kuch din guzarei Gujarat mein (Azad saheb please spend some days in Gujarat),” Modi quipped, using a tagline of Gujarat Tourism.
On the Congress’ claim of Indian economy expanding by only USD 0.8 trillion to USD 2.8 billion in five years, PM Modi said under his rule the economy has expanded by nearly half when compared to USD 2 trillion added in 60 years of Congress rule.
(With inputs from PTI)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines