In Parliament, the prime minister counters opposition attack on CAA, NPR, etc
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made scathing comments on the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, alleging that “attempts are being made to spread lies” around Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR).
Modi asserted that people of Jammu & Kashmir had been freed from the clutches of “several injustices” after the abolition of special provisions under Article 370, even as the entire Opposition, barring the BSP, staged a walkout in the Upper House just before voting on the motion of thanks on the President’s speech to a joint sitting, reports The Tribune of Chandigarh.
Before the walkout, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed that the Congress was not against granting citizenship to Hindu immigrants from Pakistan. “We are however opposing the law being made on the basis of religion,” he said, adding that the PM should not mislead the nation. The motion, however, was passed in both Houses.
Training his guns on the Opposition, especially the Congress, for their repeated reference to the BJP’s alleged “polarizing Hindu-Muslim politics”, Modi made references to former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, the Partition, the Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to stress his points. The Congress must say “Save the Constitution” 100 times a day, Modi said, reminding it of the times its governments violated the Constitution. The Congress government imposed the Emergency, curbed judiciary’s powers, spoke against people’s right to life and dismissed Opposition-run state governments frequently, he said.
Accusing the Opposition of using its might to stoke “imaginary” fears about the CAA and likening its stand to that of Pakistan, the PM also warned that street agitations against decisions of Parliament and state Assemblies might lead to “anarchy” and that everyone should be worried about it. “What will then happen? Can the country run this way? This is road to anarchy… Such a way can put you (Opposition) in trouble as well. I am giving this warning as we all should be concerned about the country,” he said.
Taking both Houses down the history lane, the PM reminded the Congress of the ‘Nehru-Liaquat pact’ and Nehru’s letter to the then Chief Minister of Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, asking him to treat Hindu ‘sharnarthis’ differently from Muslim immigrants. By those standards, could the late PM be described “communal”, Modi wondered.
According to Modi, when the Nehru-Liaquat Ali (the then PM of Pakistan) pact was signed, it said minorities won’t be discriminated against in Pakistan. “For someone’s aspiration to become the Prime Minister of India, a line was drawn on the map and India was divided into two. After the Partition, the way Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities were persecuted is unimaginable,” he said.
The PM also referred to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and allegations about his link to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to question Congress’ pitch for secularism. “Does a party that keeps talking about secularism not remember 1984 and the anti-Sikh violence. It was shameful. In addition, they did not make efforts to punish the guilty,” he said.
Amid thumping of benches by ruling BJP members and their allies, he touched upon issues of Kashmir, economy, unemployment and the pro-poor, pro-farmer works of his government while taking frequent digs at rivals, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi whom he dubbed a “tubelight”.
Amid Opposition chants of ‘where is Farooq Abdullah’, Modi cited comments by him and other Kashmir leaders, who had warned that any decision to nullify Article 370 may sever the Valley’s link with India… He said Kashmir’s identity was buried on January 19, 1990, when Pandits started leaving the Valley.
Hitting out at the Congress over its opposition to the CAA, the PM asked if first premier Jawaharlal Nehru could be described as “communal” for seeking citizenship for religious minorities who wanted to leave Pakistan after Partition.