- "On the night of June 25, India's soul was crushed," PM said on Emergency
- "You've gone so high, you can't see the ground": PM Modi to Congress
- PM was responding to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first speech in Parliament after his party returned to power with a massive majority, was as much about Congress roasting as showcasing the achievements of his government. In the 70-minute response to the Motion of Thanks on the President's address, he outlined his government's journey and future goals, much of it posited as contrast to the Congress. Even the party's coming to power in 2014, he indicated, happened because the voters were fed up with the Grand Old Party.
"In 2014, when we were new, the country said 'inse toh bachenge' (we will be spared from Congress rule) and bought us to power," he said in Parliament.
He also took on the Congress directly, accusing the party of arrogance, giving credit to none but the Gandhi family and "crushing India's soul" with Emergency.
"Thus far and no further," he said, warning the Congress to stop its repeated accusations that the BJP is bent on cornering credit. The accusation was made repeatedly by the Congress in the bitter campaign for the national elections. It was also levelled yesterday by the Congress's Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury during his response to the Motion of Thanks.
"You (the Congress) have gone so high that you cannot see the ground. You are so high, that the ones on the ground seem small and insignificant," he said. "Our dream is not to go high, our dream is to join with the roots. That's our route."
The track record of his five-year-old government, he said, has won huge support from the people. The BJP has powered to a second term, winning by even a bigger margin than 2014. From 282 seats in 2014, the BJP this time crossed the 300-mark.
But the mandate, he confided, "came after a trial by fire" and the journey over the last five years, has not been easy.
The welfare programmes, he said, made people question why the government was taking pains over getting gas ovens or electricity for them. "From why don't they do it, to why do they do it, the journey was long," he said.
He, however, underscored his earlier stance that now the elections are over, serving the people by working together in parliament is the goal. "Who won, who lost, to see election like this, cannot be a part of my ethos," he said, outlining the government's goal of making India a 5 trillion dollar economy and improvements in the farm and education sectors.
Seeking the opposition's cooperation, the Prime Minister had made the point last week as the Lok Sabha was convened.
Congress's Shashi Tharoor said, "PM knows how to use all rhetorical devices of debate. Our concern is about the gap between rhetoric and reality". The "important thing" he said, is that the Prime Minister says the Congress is "too busy looking at the skies, I'd say it is the opposite, we are focused on dreams, we are focused on ground reality."