PM Modi invokes Emergency to counter Congress' 'protecting Constitution' pitch

Modi launched an all-out attack on the Congress, saying it speaks with a forked tongue, 'by opposing celebration of the Constitution Day while doing the 'drama' of protecting the Constitution during polls'.
Last Updated : 03 July 2024, 14:41 IST

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday targeted the Congress over making the 2024 general elections about the "protection" of the Constitution, saying Indians voted on the plank only once when they threw out the Indira Gandhi government in 1977 after the Emergency.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, he gave an account of the situation in strife-torn Manipur, promised action in the NEET paper leak case, and listed out achievements of his past two terms and priorities for the third.

A day after his response to the debate in Lok Sabha on a motion to thank President Droupadi Murmu for her address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Modi launched an all-out attack on the Congress, saying it speaks with a forked tongue, "by opposing celebration of the Constitution Day while doing the 'drama' of protecting the Constitution during polls".

This infuriated I.N.D.I.A. bloc parties, who shouted slogans calling Modi a "liar". Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to intervene but was not allowed, leading to the Opposition MPs trying to drown out Modi's speech by raising slogans. Later they staged a walkout.

The sloganeering did not deter Modi who continued his speech and said the Congress was "running away as it does not have the courage to hear the truth". Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar also condemned the walkout, calling it an insult to the Constitution.

In his nearly two-hour-long speech, Modi listed out his previous government's achievements: from raising minimum support price for crops to giving the poor access to the banking system and loans, and fuelling India's rise to become the fifth largest economy in the world.

With development and self-reliance as pivot, Modi said, India will "definitely" become the third largest economy in the world in his third term.

The Prime Minister, who started his first term in May 2014, said people have given mandate to the BJP-led NDA to make India a developed nation.

He said the Opposition is "unable to digest" the mandate given by 140 crore people to the NDA. "I understand your pain," he said, targeting the Opposition.

"They are not able to digest the mandate given by 140 crore people to us. Their all efforts failed yesterday. Today they did not have courage to fight that and therefore they left the field. I am bound by my duty. I am not here to score in a debate. I am servant of the country. I am here to give a detailed account of our work and it is my duty," he said as the Opposition walked out of the House.

Referring to the Congress party's repeated claim during elections that BJP would change the Constitution, Modi said, "I want to remind them. Will you continue this fake narrative? Have you forgotten the 1977 elections when newspapers and radio were shut. There was no freedom of speech. People then voted on one issue - re-establishing the Constitution and protection of Constitution." There has not been more painful election than the one held in 1977 in the world, he said.

"The 1977 elections clearly shows how (the urge of) saving the Constitution was alive in the hearts of people. Are you misleading the people (now)? At that time, people threw (Indira Gandhi) out of power," he said.

He said that for his party, the Constitution is not just a compilation of articles but its spirit and words are very important too. The Constitution is like a lighthouse which shows his government direction, Modi said.

He also attacked Congress allies, saying they too were the victims of the excesses committed during the Emergency, but have now joined hands for political opportunism.

On the Manipur situation, Modi said violence in the state is continuously declining and educational institutions have reponed and businesses are operational in most parts of the state.

"The government is making continuous efforts to bring normalcy in Manipur," he said, and informed over 11,000 FIRs have been filed in connection with violence in the state and more than 500 people have been arrested.

He stressed that the central and state governments were talking to everyone there for opening the door to peace.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the alleged irregularities in the conduct of competitive exams, and asserted tough action will be taken against those involved in paper leaks.

"We wanted there should be no politics on a sensitive issue like paper leak, but the Opposition is used to it. I assure the youth of India that action is being taken to ensure that those who play with the future of youths are handed down strict punishment," he said.

The Prime Minister vowed further crackdown on corruption and black money, saying the government has given "full freedom" to probe agencies for taking strongest action against the corrupt and no one will be spared.

He also took potshot at the Congress party for levelling serious allegations "with evidence" against the AAP and then forming an alliance with it to fight the Lok Sabha elections.

"I want to state without hesitation and also tell the people of the country that I have given full freedom to agencies to take the strongest action against the corrupt and corruption. The government will not interfere anywhere," the Prime Minister said.

"Yes, they (probe agencies) should work honestly. No person embroiled in corruption will be able to escape the law. This is Modi's guarantee," the PM said.

Rejecting the charge that the government is misusing probe agencies, Modi cited statements made by Opposition leaders, like the late Mulayam Singh Yadav who had accused the UPA government of using ED and CBI against them.

"The AAP commits liquor scam, AAP commits corruption, AAP commits scam in building classrooms for children, AAP even commits water scam… the Congress complains against the AAP, the Congress drags AAP to court and if action is taken then they abuse Modi," the Prime Minister said.

He also accused the Opposition of selective outrage on atrocities against women, saying none of them said a word on public beating of a woman in West Bengal.

Published 03 July 2024, 14:41 IST

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