The Presidential Address at the commencement of the Budget Session is a very important event in parliamentary tradition. It has great sanctity and propriety attached to it. This Budget Session has its own added significance because it was the maiden address of President Droupadi Murmu whose elevation to the top-most post is historic. After all, she comes from a deprived community and is a leader of great distinction.
It is tragic that Rahul Gandhi used the “Motion of Thanks” to level baseless, reckless, and shameful allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While doing so, he threw all parliamentary proprietary to the winds and indulged in lies. Rule 353 of the parliamentary procedure rules clearly stipulates that “No allegation of a defamatory or incriminatory nature shall be made by a member against any person unless the member has given adequate notice to the Speaker and also to the Minister concerned”. None of these procedures was followed. What is utterly irresponsible is that even in sensitive matters such as foreign relations with neighbouring countries, he deliberately uttered a lie related to the award of a contract in a power facility: The president of Sri Lanka publicly repudiated the statement of a particular officer, who also withdrew his comments. Rahul Gandhi did not mention this.
It is evident that despite his nearly 4,000 km-long “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, Rahul Gandhi still has deep-seated frustration over the repeated losses of the Congress Party. In fact, he had not walked for “Bharat jodo” but to seek validation for the entitled idea that only he and his family have the divine right to rule India. This entailed an arrogant assumption not to accept Modi as a Prime Minister and that the BJP is in power.
The Congress has consciously and deliberately ignored the contributions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhas Chandra Bose. It is PM Modi who accorded them and many other freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the country due respect. This has included naming islands after Paramveer Chakra awardees in Andaman & Nicobar.
Rahul Gandhi has no moral authority to speak about corruption. Along with his mother Sonia Gandhi, he is out on bail in the National Herald case, which carries allegations of the fraudulent acquisition of costly real estate. Bofors, AgustaWestland, 2G, the coal scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, Adarsh Housing Society scam — all of these allegations and improprieties bear testimony to the soaring corruption under the watch of the Congress party. All of these cases happened because of the rank patronage extended by the Manmohan Singh government under active pressure from the “family”. The “family” also facilitated the flight of many accused – for instance, Ottavio Quattrocchi, the middleman of the Bofors scam — from India.
Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Rahul Gandhi, allegedly made millions by the fraudulent appropriation of a massive chunk of costly land at a throwaway price and then earning an overnight profit of selling is a textbook case of the “Vadra Model of development” fully facilitated by the Congress-ruled state governments of Haryana and Rajasthan.
The allegations levelled against Gautam Adani are equally curious. It was in 2008 during UPA rule that Adani purchased the Bunyu Coal mine in Indonesia, his first overseas purchase. In 2010, he purchased the Carmichael mine in Australia and Adani announced a $1.65 billion deal with the Indonesian government to set up rail and port infrastructure. It was in 2011 that Adani bought the Galilee mine and Abbot Point Port in Australia. All of this happened under the UPA government. Going by Rahul Gandhi’s logic, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh facilitated all of these. The Adani group plans to invest Rs 65 thousand crore in Rajasthan in projects secured by the Ashok Gehlot government and also has permission for a big coal project in Chhattisgarh and a port in Kerala — these states are under non-BJP governments.
These are larger issues at stake. Should Indian entrepreneurs be encouraged to become international players?
It was evident from his allegations that Rahul Gandhi is a deeply frustrated politician and has serious grievances as to how his sense of entitlement is being repelled by the people of India.
His reckless allegation of the Agniveer scheme being sponsored by RSS is laughable. Today, lakhs of youth are applying and getting selected under the scheme. I always held the view that Rahul Gandhi does not do his homework and now even he does not cross-check the information his aides feed him.
The timing is also suspect. As chairperson of the G20, India is getting global attention. It has become the fifth-largest economy in the world. Then comes a report against a group picked up by favourable platforms and Rahul Gandhi unleashes the attack. There are just too many coincidences.
India has moved beyond the myopic view of Rahul Gandhi. It is marching with pride and confidence as a nation of substance and eminence in all fields, globally. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress will face the same fate in the 2024 Lok Sabha election as they did in 2019.
The writer is former Union Law Minister and a BJP MP