His government under attack from the Opposition over controversies involving his ministers and party leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made clear Friday that he expected a stormy start to the monsoon session of Parliament next week.
Addressing the birth centenary celebrations of late Congress leader Girdhari Lal Dogra in Jammu, which was attended among others by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Modi referred to the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and said: “Abhi hum yahan masti se baithe huay hain, parso dekhna aap kaise muqabla hota hai (We may be sitting here comfortably today but watch how we fight the day after).”
The late Girdhari Lal Dogra, who presented a record 26 budgets as Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was the father-in-law of Union Finance Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
The Prime Minister countered the Congress charge of the BJP “usurping” its icons: “Everybody in public life works for an ideology during his lifetime. Yet one works and dies for the country. We who have succeeded them… it is not our job to differentiate, create hurdles… There should be no untouchability because they worked for the country… people speak from different platforms, political untouchability does not work.”
“Whether he was in National Conference or Congress, whether Prime Minister should have come or not? That’s not the question. He (PM) must come because this person sacrificed his youth for the nation. Our legacy should not be divided.”
Modi’s comments assume significance because from the time he became Prime Minister last year, he has been accused by Congress of trying to “usurp” the legacy of icons like Sardar Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, B R Ambedkar and Subhash Chandra Bose. More recently, the BJP also sought to associate itself with late K Kamaraj, a former Congress president, hailing him as a national leader who had opposed Emergency.
Using the occasion to criticise dynastic politics by citing the example of Dogra who did not bring his family into public life despite being a tall leader, Modi said the late Congress leader was a good judge of people and even made Azad the state Youth Congress chief.
“There is no match between his ideology and that of Arunji (Jaitley). Despite that he gave his daughter to him,” he said, adding that Jaitley is not known because of his father-in-law and Dogra was not known because of his son-in-law.
“Otherwise in such a long time, Arunji must have thought about it some time. But both decided their destinies themselves.”
At the same time, he took a swipe at the Congress by making a veiled reference to Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra who is embroiled in controversies: “Aaj toh hum jaante hain, damaadon ke kaaran kya kya baatein hoti hain (We all know what all is said these days because of sons-in law).”
Others present at the event included Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, veteran Congress leader Dr Karan Singh, Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.
Contrary to expectations, the Prime Minister did not announce any package for the state on this trip.