Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched a stinging attack in the Lok Sabha on Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of releasing Pakistan from a small "cage" in which it was put after the 26/11 attacks by his sudden visit to Lahore and bringing a 'fair and lovely' scheme to launder ‘black’ money.
He also rapped Modi's silence on the Jawaharlal Nehru University row, especially the attack on journalists and teachers in the court. In acerbic remarks on his style of functioning, he said Modi did not listen to anyone's opinion, including his ministers and party members of Parliament, on issues like his visit to Pakistan and the Naga accord.
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Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched a stinging attack in the Lok Sabha on Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of releasing Pakistan from a small “cage” in which it was put after the 26/11 attacks by his sudden visit to Lahore and bringing a “fair and lovely” scheme to launder black money.
He also rapped Modi’s silence on the Jawaharlal Nehru University row, especially the attack on journalists and teachers in the court. In acerbic remarks on his style of functioning, he said Modi did not listen to anyone’s opinion, including his ministers and party MPs, on issues like his visit to Pakistan and the Naga accord.
Appealing to the prime minister to reach out to the Opposition, Gandhi made it clear that the Opposition does not consider the government as an “enemy” and “does not hate you”.
Taking the floor in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the motion of thanks to President’s address, Rahul, in a speech that was often interrupted by the Bharatiya Janata Party members accused Modi of “single handedly destroying” six years of United Progressive Alliance work to put Pakistan into a small cage after 26/11 terror strikes, by visiting Pakistan.
He charged the prime minister with “releasing” Pakistan from a “cage” for which the UPA had invested thousands of hours of hard work and all-round consultations.
“The work done by the UPA has made us all proud. We conducted Panchayat elections, created self-help groups, which generated employment. We had broken the back of insurgency in Kashmir completely.
“And what did the prime minister do? He decided to have a cup of tea with Nawaz Sharif without any vision. He decided to take a detour to Pakistan. Just like the Naga Accord. He did not bother to consult anyone...the people in intelligence, the diplomats.
“Perhaps he did not even talk to (External Affairs Minister) Sushmaji (Swaraj). Only his opinion matters. He single handedly destroyed the six years of work done by the UPA,” Gandhi said.
Insisting that the then UPA government had put Pakistan into a “small cage” after 26/11, Gandhi said this was achieved by UPA by investing by working tirelessly and in taking account of diverse opinion ranging from opposition leaders, diplomats, armed forces and intelligence officers.
With such Herculean efforts, he said, India managed to “isolate” Pakistan internationally, turn it into a “pariah nation” and succeeded in projecting it as a “global supporter of terrorism”.
Picking on the one-time compliance window announced in the Budget as a “Fair and Lovely” scheme, Gandhi said this was nothing but a move to turn the black money into white.
“The finance minister has announced a new scheme-Fair and Lovely scheme. In this scheme, any thief of the country can convert his black money into white. If anyone indulges in corruption, he can convert his black money into white using the Fair and Lovely scheme,” Gandhi said.
Another highlight of Gandhi’s nearly 30-minute speech was his telling the PM that he should also reach out to the opposition for the greater good of the country.
“Listen to us. We are not your enemy, we do not hate you,” Gandhi told the PM.
Earlier he claimed that the PM does not consult anybody even in the government.
“PM does not listen to anybody; Even the home minister was not aware of Naga Accord which PM signed,” Gandhi added.
On the issue of JNU, he faulted Modi for not speaking a word on the row.
“Why didn’t PM utter a word when teachers and media were attacked,” the Congress vice-president asked while referring to the raging row over the JNU episode.
Gandhi said the when the security forces were battling the terrorists, the then Gujarat Chief Minister (Modi) came to the attack site to make headlines.
“There is only one truth in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. One truth in the universe -- your own. Nobody else’s opinion matters in entire universe. This is all you have shown in last two years. PM cannot run the country with his opinion. Country is not PM. PM is not country,” he said
Insisting that the national flag is much more than cloth, he noted that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Miloševic and and Pakistan President Yahya Khan used to salute their flags but ultimately ended in breaking their nations.
“Yahya Khan did not listen to the sentiments among the Bengalis and Punjabis,” he said.
Gandhi claimed that when the PM contacted the opposition leaders intimating them about the government solving the Naga problem by signing an accord, none in the state governments or the central government knew.
He said although the issue had “huge ramifications”, neither the chief minister of Nagaland, nor that of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh knew a word of it.
“The home ministry and the intelligence agency. Even the home minister had no idea. Fascinating. Now it (the accord) has vanished in thin air. Gone with the wind. Bye Bye accord.
“Is it not an insult to the institutions, not an insult of the Indian flag and people of these states?” he said.
On the JNU row, Gandhi asserted that Kanhaiya Kumar had not uttered a single word which was against the law but still he was being bars while real culprits are still roaming free. He also accused the government of “crushing” the voice of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
“What is JNU? Sixty per cent of the students belong to Dalits, minorities and OBCs. Forty per cent of them come from a poor background. Why are you behind the JNU? Because Dalits and adivasis study there and you don’t want them to grow. But we will not let this happen. You cannot crush the JNU,” he said.
Seeking to take a dig at the BJP, he posed the question as to which religion has said that teachers and the media should be beaten up, in reference to the attack on the JNU issue. He wondered as to why the PM has not spoken a single word about the incident. Gandhi told the PM that the country was gently trying to give him a message and that he should listen to the countrymen.
“Listen to all those around you. Rajnathji, Advaniji, Sushma Swaraj,” he said.
Suggesting that the Congress and the BJP believed in contrasting ideologies, he said, “we believe in Gandhi and you believe in (V D) Savarkar.”
Taking a jibe at the BJP, he said, “I am not the RSS. I don’t know everything. So I make mistakes,” the Congress vice-president said.
Gandhi also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the rising prices of dal and the benefits of falling crude oil not being passed to anyone.
Seeking to puncture the government’s claims on the Make in India initiative, the Congress vice-president questioned on how much jobs the programme created.
“The finance minister told me that MGNREGA is the best scheme but I tell him that he should convey this to his boss (the PM),” Gandhi said, on the UPA’s flagship scheme being allocated a sizable funds.
Gandhi said when the PM “let Pakistan out of the little cage we had forced them into, he gifted them a status equal to ours”.
“When he stopped over at Pakistan without talking to the professionals in our government, the PM disrespected our flag. He disrespected those who died in Mumbai and Pathankot,” he said.
Besides, he said, “You cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between Indians. You are not defending the flag when you frighten your own people into silence.”
At another point, he asked whose opinion does the PM respect except his own?
“You have been taught by your teachers in the RSS that there is only one truth - Yours”.
Turning to the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, Gandhi said “then the government of India begged the then CM of Gujarat again and again not to go to Mumbai because he would disturb the operation”.
“Did he care? No. He went right ahead to Mumbai -- to the Oberoi hotel itself and disturbed the entire operation. He grabbed his headlines while our people died.”
Image: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. Photograph: TV GRAB/PTI