Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched a frontal attack on the BJP-led NDA government, accusing it of favouring corporates, ignoring interests of farmers, failing to create jobs and coughing up exorbitantly high price for the French Rafale fighter jets.
Participating in the debate on no-confidence motion against the NDA government, first since it came to power in 2014, Gandhi’s 40-minute speech was disrupted a number of times by noisy protests from treasury benches, a brief adjournment and a dramatic scene when he walked across to shake hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hug him.
Stating that BJP hated him but he did not nurse any ill-will or hate against them, Gandhi walked across to the treasury benches and hugged the Prime Minister who remained in his seat and appeared unprepared and surprised at the dramatic gesture. Displaying warmth, Modi smilingly patted Mr Gandhi on the back and the two leaders also exchange a few words. Members also cheered the gesture. Mr Gandhi returned to his seat as his party members appreciated their president’s impromptu act.
Attacking the NDA government, Gandhi said “Jumla Strike’ was a phenomenon of 21st century as Prime Minister’s promises have turned out to be hollow. He said the symptoms of “Jumla Strike’ were excitement, happiness and shock. Calling it a “fantastic political weapon’, Gandhi said the “Jumla Strike’ had farmers, youth, Dalits and women. He said there was no sanctity in PM’s words as he his promise of crediting Rs. 15 lakh in each bank account was “Jumla Number One’ . The next “Jumla’ was the promise of generating two crore jobs per year but quoting figures of Labour Department’s survey, Mr Gandhi said in 2016-17 only four lakh youth were provided jobs.
He picked on demonetisation and implementation of GST to accuse the NDA government of destroying small time traders, businessmen and farmers. “These two decisions totally wrecked the small and medium enterprises. We proposed a single rate GST but the BJP had then opposed it. You have brought in five GST rates and destroyed small traders and shopkeepers,’ he alleged.
Gandhi accused the NDA government of waiving off Rs 2.5 lakh crore loans of business tycoons but did not take any step on loan waiver of farmers. He said the Prime Minister had described himself as a ‘Chowkidar'(watchman) but has turned out to be a ‘Bhagidar'(partner).
Reiterating his earlier charge of “suit boot ki sarkar’, Gandhi said the Prime Minister’s policies and decisions were benefitting only a handful of 20-25 big corporates. Sharply criticising the deal with the French government for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, he said the Prime Minister unilaterally announced the deal during the visit to Paris. He claimed that UPA government had negotiated a price of Rs 520 crore for each fighter jet while the NDA government had hiked it to Rs 1600 crore per aircraft.
Gandhi accused Defence Minister of suppressing truth while stating that there was a secrecy agreement between Indian and French governments. He said that he had met French President in New Delhi who had told him there no such secrecy agreement with the Indian government. His charge was strongly contested by members on the treasury benches who were on their feet to register their noisy protest. The Speaker said she would give an opportunity to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to answer the accusations.
Turning his attack on the Prime Minister, the Congress President said while Modi has a cosy relationship with big time corporate tycoons, the PM did not feel for the poor, downtrodden and farmers. “Prime Minister cannot looking into my eyes’, he repeatedly said demanding an answer from the Prime Minister why a particular businessman was favoured in place of public-sector HAL for a contract relating to Rafale deal. As Gandhi was reiterating his allegations, Prime Minister smiled and also laughed as BJP members protested noisily.
On foreign policy, Gandhi said while Chinese President Xi Jinping was being given a hearty welcome in Ahmedabad, a thousand Chinese troops were staying put in Indian territory. Later, Chinese troops also occupied Doklam but brave Indian Army soldiers drove them away, Gandhi said. He said Xi-Modi summit in Wuhan was without any agenda but PM Modi was conned into not raising Doklam issue.
His allegations against the Prime Minister were objected to by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar who quoted Parliamentary rules, saying no allegation of defamatory nature can be levelled against any minister, including Prime Minister, without giving adequate notice. During uproar, the Speaker had to briefly adjourn the House.