In what was seen as his last speech in Parliament before the announcement of election schedules, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the opposition on Thursday that while hating him, they should not undermine the nation.
His remark was aimed at Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, who frequently participates in events overseas to attack Modi and, in the process, shows India in poor light.
Rahul, who keeps chanting the slogan ‘watchman (Modi) himself is a thief’, was not present in the House to hear the reply to that charge during the prime minister’s two-hour speech.
Touching upon the subject, Modi wondered how the real thief (Rahul) can call an honest ‘watchman’ (of the nation) a thief.
He was referring to the National Herald corruption scandal involving Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi who face tax evasion charges. They are out on bail.
Modi said the Gandhi family have gained through corruption. Under successive Congress governments led by a member of the family or controlled by them, the ministry of defence could not think of any arms deal without the involvement of agents working within India or outside.
During 55 years of Congress rule, Indian soldiers were crying for bullet-proof jackets, helmets, proper boots, and communication equipment to ensure their safety and help them protect the borders. Those demands remained largely ignored and were finally met with in just four years under the present government, Modi said.
He asked Congress MPs how the ill-equipped soldiers were able to do surgical strikes on Pakistan during their rule as they claim. They are now trying to lower the morale of soldiers by raising doubts over a well-documented surgical strike carried out by Indian forces under the present dispensation, he said.
Modi came down heavily on the opposition for insulting India’s defence chief by calling him names.
Demolishing the opposition’s charges that the government is undermining institutions, Modi said they are the ones who question the rulings of the Supreme Court, the working of the electronic voting machines of the Election Commission and the sacrifices of the Indian soldiers.
On the recent formation of a grand coalition of opposition parties to fight the forthcoming elections, Modi said it is a league of corrupt people. The ‘mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance) is, in fact, a ‘mahamilawat’ (grand adulteration), he said, amid protests from opposition benches.
The opposition is concerned as agents behind arms deal scandals are being extradited to India. They fear the suspects, who are questioned by federal agents, may spill the beans.
Modi said he will not spare the corrupt. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the 2014 elections by a huge margin because of rampant corruption under the Congress rule. The new government kept their promises by giving a clean, transparent and inclusive governance.
Voters are not going to be swayed by false stories being spread by the opposition. The BJP-led government will retain power in the forthcoming elections and work for the welfare of all, he said.