Published: February 7, 2018 7:16 pm
The Congress Wednesday dubbed as “disappointing” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in the Lok Sabha. The main opposition party, whose MPs walked out of the House over Modi’s reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the president for his address to the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament, said it did not address the issues raised by lawmakers, including that on the Rafale deal.
Hitting out at Modi for his “don’t give BJP sermons on democracy” remark directed at his party, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the prime minister himself does not respect democracy. He said people like Modi “speak something and do something else”. Responding to the prime minister’s accusation that the Congress bifurcated Andhra Pradesh because of “political considerations”, Kharge said Modi did not keep his word on doing justice to Telangana and giving an economic package to the residual Andhra Pradesh after the NDA came to power.
Speaking to journalists outside Parliament, the Congress leader assailed Modi for not touching upon the issues of giving minimum support price (MSP) to farmers and doubling their income by 2022. “The prime minister did not say anything new in his speech. He also did not mention anything new in the interest of the country. He also did not give satisfactory reply to issues we raised,” Kharge said.
“This was his political speech, election speech…We are disappointed by the speech. He backtracked from fulfilling our demands. Hence, we staged walkout,” he added. Referring to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Kharge said Modi, in the run up to the 2014 general elections, had said a separate Telangana state would be created if the BJP came to power. Kharge also recalled that the BJP, while in the opposition, had supported the demand for dividing Andhra Pradesh.
Let the prime minister at least say that he was not in favour of creating Telangana and giving an economic package to Andhra Pradesh, he said. “He is neither supporting (the bifurcation), and on the other (hand), is speaking such a language (accusing the Congress of dividing the state). Hence, I feel saddened that the prime minister is not keeping his words,” Kharge said.
He said the MPs of Andhra Pradesh’s ruling TDP, a BJP ally, staged protests in Lok Sabha yesterday over issues concerning the state when he flagged the matter of Rafale deal in the House. Today, the TDP MPs were, however, requested not to raise their issues when the prime minister was to address the House. Kharge alleged the government did not allow him to press his demands.
“The prime minister talked about being large-hearted. He also read out (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee ji’s poem. Despite reading Vajpayee ji’s poem, the prime minister did not become large-hearted (person),” the Congress leader said. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also attacked the prime minister, saying his speech was a “farrago (a confused mixture) of misrepresentation and half truths”.
“The problem was that all the facts and figures given were simply not the kind of figures that can stand up the detailed scrutiny, and I think the public would realise this,” Tharoor added.