Steering clear of the Lalit Modi row during his Mann ki Baat radio programme Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead focused on the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ programme, asking people to post selfies with their daughters online.
Almost immediately, a host of Congress leaders targeted the PM for maintaining silence on the controversy involving his colleagues. “The PM, who criticised Manmohan Singh for being silent, is silent now,” former finance Minister P Chidambaram was quoted as saying by PTI.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “It is in the interest of the PM to take immediate action against those involved in corruption. Otherwise, nationally and internationally, it is going to haunt him wherever he goes… So far people are not asking (for his resignation), but they will soon be asking that if he does not act.”
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said that by keeping silent, the PM was helping the former IPL chief. “My charge is that Narendra Modi is helping Lalit Modi. My charge is that he has promised Lalit Modi that he will be bailed out of all the cases in which he is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate,” Singh said.
CPM politburo member Brinda Karat also joined the Opposition chorus, saying, “There is a world of a difference between the country’s Mann Ki Baat and Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat… The country wants to know about the scams in which so many of his leaders are embroiled.”
During his 20-minute radio address, Modi made no mention of the controversy surrounding the former IPL chief, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief MInister Vasundhara Raje.
Instead, he referred to a competition organised by the gram panchayat of Bibipur village in Haryana — first reported by The Indian Express on June 12 — asking people to click ‘selfies’ with their daughters, and said it was a good way to strengthen the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign.
“Recently, the sarpanch of Bibipur village, Sunil Jaglan, took a very interesting initiative. He organised a competition in his village, and asked everyone to post a selfie with their daughters… I really liked this concept. Since it comes from Haryana, where the gender ratio is the worst, it raises hope,” the PM said.
“This particular incident has also inspired me and I would now request all of you click a selfie with your daughters and post it on the Internet with the ‘selfiewithdaughter’ hashtag. Along with that, you can also post a powerful tagline for the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign in your preferred language. The most inspirational lines will be retweeted by me along with the selfie. This way we can convert ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ into a public campaign,” he added.
The PM thanked people for their response to his earlier request to post pictures from their holidays to boost the Incredible India campaign. The PM also called on people to ‘gift’ premiums for three recently launched social security schemes to their domestic helps ahead of Raksha Bandhan festival.
“We have got a very positive response to the three social security schemes. We have to take them forward. Raksha Bandhan comes in August. Before that, let us gift the mothers and sisters who work in our homes insurance schemes worth Rs 12 and Rs 330 per year for their entire life,” he said.
Asking people to conserve rain water, he said, “We must try to ensure that the village water remains in the village, the city water remains in the city. If we save rain water, it helps us throughout the year.”