With the Opposition preparing to take on the Government in Parliament over the recent spate of lynchings by cow vigilantes, and the alleged targeting of its leaders by central agencies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed both issues, calling for “tough action” against violence in the name of protecting “gau mata” and appealing for support in action against the corrupt.
The Prime Minister was addressing an all-party meeting Sunday called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, a day before the start of the Monsoon Session.
Speaking to reporters, Kumar quoted Modi as saying: “Gau raksha ko kuchch asaamajik tatvon ne arajakata failane ka madhyam bana liya hai. Desh ke chhavi par bhi iska asar ho raha hai. Hum sabhi rajnitik dalon ko gau raksha ke naam par ho rahi is gundagardi ki kadi bhartsana karni chaahiye (Some anti-social elements have made cow protection an excuse to spread anarchy. This is also affecting the nation’s image. All political parties should strongly condemn this hooliganism in the name of cow protection).”
“He said that state governments should take the strongest action against the anti-social elements carrying out violence in the name of cow protection because law and order is the prime responsibility of state governments,” Kumar quoted Modi as saying.
The Prime Minister later reiterated these remarks in a series of tweets on his official handle. “Rajya sarkaron ko yeh bhi dekhna chahiye ki kahin kuchh log gau raksha ke naam par apni vyaktigat dushmani ka badla toh nahin le rahe hain (The state governments should also see that nobody is using cow-protection to settle personal scores),” he posted.
On corruption, Modi appeared to have made a veiled reference to RJD chief Lalu Prasad, with Kumar quoting him as saying: “Kanoon agar apna kaam kar raha hai to siyasi saazish ki baat karke bachne ka raasta dekh rahe logon ke prati hamein ekjut hokar kaam karna hoga (If the law is doing its work, we need to join hands against those who are
looking for a way out in the name of a political conspiracy).”
Prasad, against whom a CBI FIR was registered this month on charges of corruption, had blamed the agency’s action as part of a “political vendetta” — this line could be pursued in Parliament by the Congress and Trinamool Congress.
The Trinamool Congress boycotted Sunday’s meeting. JD(U) parliamentary party leader Sharad Yadav, too, gave it a miss due to “some personal reason”, said Kumar.
Asserting that the nation will not gain anything by “standing with those who have plundered the nation”, Modi said that what is required is that “we have to be transparent in our public life and yet there should be action against corrupt leaders”.
According to Kumar, the Prime Minister also said that the Government would ensure punishment for terrorists responsible for the attack on Amarnath yatris last week; he thanked all parties for the implementation of GST, which was a “fine example of cooperative federalism”.
On the issue of Kashmir and China, Kumar said that all parties were with the Government “on the issue of national security”.
The Prime Minister also said that a consensus on the presidential candidate “would have been better” but hailed the “decorum” maintained during the campaign.
However, after the meeting, the buzz was all about Modi’s remarks on violence by cow vigilantes, particularly with the Government facing severe criticism from the Opposition on this issue.
Kumar said that the Government has sent an advisory to state governments in this regard. “The Prime Minister also said that a race has begun to gain political mileage by giving political and communal colour to issues like cow and protection and others, which will not do any good to the nation… everybody will have to join hands to check it,” he said.
Quoting Modi, Kumar said: “There is a larger belief in the country that cow is the mother and should be protected but there is a law for it. Taking the law into one’s hands for it and carrying out atrocities in its name to settle personal scores cannot be tolerated at all and strong action should be taken.”
On corruption, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister quoted the Prime Minister as saying that the “fight against corruption had begun now”. “The Prime Minister appealed to all parties to join hands in this fight against corruption,” he said.
“There is a question mark now on the credibility of politicians and those in public life because of the rampant corruption that happened in the past and due to the ills and wrong intentions of those who indulged in corruption”, Kumar quoted Modi as saying.
The Prime Minister said that people need to be convinced that “all politicians do not run after money”, said Kumar.
Later, in one of his tweets, Modi posted: “Sarvajanik jeevan mein swachhata ke saath hi bhrasht netaon par karvahi avashyak hai. Har dal aise netaon ko pehachankar apne dal ko rajnitik yatra se alag kare (In public life, apart from being clean, it is essential to take action against the corrupt. Every party should identify such leaders and disassociate itself from them).”
Modi, who was the last to speak at the meeting, also told the gathering that the Government’s decision to advance the presentation of the Union Budget has resulted in appreciation of 30 per cent in total expenditure and 49 per cent increase in infrastructure expenditure in three months.
The Opposition leaders present included Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and D Raja (CPI).
Azad, later, made it clear that Opposition parties would target the Government over J&K as well as the stand-off with China. He said that the Government had “closed all doors for a dialogue” on Kashmir, which has led to “political suffocation”.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Israel is also likely to figure in the session, apart from the flood situation in Assam and other northeastern states, violence over Gorkhaland, the fallout of demonetisation, price rise, job losses and disinvestment of PSUs.
Yechury demanded the immediate passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill (108th Amendment Bill), 2008.
Kumar said that 21 bills were pending in Lok Sabha and 42 in Rajya Sabha. Nine of these, including The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017, have been passed by the Lok Sabha and are listed for passage by Rajya Sabha.
Other important Bills include: Labour Code Bill, extension of GST in J&K Bill, Banking Resolution Bill and The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017.
The monsoon session is scheduled to conclude on August 11, with 19 sittings over 26 days. The presidential and vice-presidential elections will be held on the sidelines of the session.
On Monday, both Houses will mark the deaths of sitting members: former Union minister Anil Madhav Dave, Palvai Govardhan Reddy of the Congress (Rajya Sabha) and Vinod Khanna of the BJP (Lok Sabha).