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NEW DELHI: In the face of deafening Opposition protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today stood in the Lok Sabha accusing the Congress of dividing India in 1947, forgetting the democracy instilled by Karnataka’s 12th century Kannada reformer Basavanna, and stabbing in the back politicians from Andhra Pradesh.
It is no accident these comments from PM Modi came ahead of state elections in Karnataka and even as his party, the BJP’s ally, Andhra Pradesh’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP), is threatening to split from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition.
As the Opposition shouted non-stop – “stop your theatrics” “enough of your ‘jumlas'” and “fulfil your electoral promises” – Modi kept on with what was supposed to be his motion of thanks to the President’s address, but what sounded more like a campaign speech.
Modi began by directly accusing the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of dividing India at independence.
“To this day, 125 crore Indians are paying the price for your sins, you divided India keeping elections in mind, you closed Parliament’s doors without heeding peoples wishes, the seeds you sowed at that time, its ramifications are being felt to this day,” the PM thundered.
The PM also lambasted the Congress for brainwashing people into thinking the Congress, and especially Jawaharlal Nehru, brought democracy to India. He said that democracy “is in the blood of Indians” and cited the golden age of Lichchavi rule in eastern India and of Kannada social reformer Basava’s teachings.
“It is the country’s misfortune that Congress leaders feel ‘Bharat’ the country was born on August 15, 1947, as if there was no country before this. I’m shicked, do I call it ignorance, or lack of understanding when it is said Nehru and Congres gave India democracy,” he said.
Keeping the upcoming Karnataka elections firmly in mind, Modi decided to use Karnataka Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge’s recent speech in Parliament as a takeoff point to explain democracy to the Lok Sabha and to inform it that democracy isn’t a preserve of the Congress – far from it, he said, the Congress has destroyed democracy.
“Kharge ji aren’t you from Karnataka, at least remember Basava. You should know him, he established the Anubhav in the 12
century. Everything he did was done democratically and women’s empowerment was his top priority, this was democracy in India on the 12
century. Have you forgotten that Kharge ji” the PM asked.
The PM then turned his focus to leaders from Andhra Pradesh, but kept to the theme of democracy not being a Congress preserve. Since the Union Budget 2018, a miffed TDP, a BJP ally, has been threatening to quit the BJP-led NDA coalition.
Ergo, Modi talked up the TDP in his speech saying that party was “born out of Congress insults to Andhra leaders” like Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy. He alleged that former Congress PM Rajiv Gandhi insulted a Congress CM at Hyderabad airport and “stabbed in the back the party’s own Presidential choice” Reddy.
“NT Rama Rao’s Telugu Desam Party was born out of those insults to the people of Andhra Pradesh,” said Modi, using that too, to underscore his point about the Congress lacking internal democracy despite professing to have brought that ideal to a unified India.
“We cannot forget how the Congress insulted Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, a proud son of Andhra Pradesh. They humiliated him. Nobody in India needs lessons on democracy from the Congress Party,” said Modi.