5 takeaways from PM Modi’s RS speech: Social justice, to state protests, cites Congress record

Referring to the dismissal of elected governments using Article 356 under the Congress, the PM said: “This Congress is giving us sermons on democracy and federalism!”

Setting the tone for the upcoming general elections and picking up from where he left off in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday continued his attacks on the Congress – challenging the Opposition party on all issues that it has made the centre of its Lok Sabha campaign.

Replying to the debate on the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha, after he had done so in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Modi was again silent on other Opposition parties and singled out the Congress.

The main talking points of the Congress which Modi made a point of taking down included its criticism of his government on representation to OBCs, SCs and STs; handling of national and internal security; “injustice” to southern states; the attack on federal principles; and assault on constitutional institutions.

Targeting Rahul Gandhi, who is on his second Bharat Jodo Yatra, without naming him, Modi said the Congress had set up a “start-up” for its “prince” which, however, remains a “non-starter”. “Na toh woh lift ho raha hai, na launch ho raha hai (Neither is it getting a lift, nor seeing a launch),” he said.

The PM also exuded confidence about getting a third term in office, framing the objectives and goals of a “Modi 3.0”. Referring to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s remarks that the Congress may not win even 40 seats this time, he said, “Main prarthana karta hun aap 40 bacha payen (I pray that you manage to retain 40).”

Social justice counter: Raises Nehru letter to Sitaram Kesri ouster

The Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi, has been demanding the holding of a caste census and talking about abysmal representation of OBCs, SCs and STs at every level. It has also promised to remove the 50% ceiling on reservations through legislation.

In his speech, Modi said the Congress neither gave full reservation to OBCs nor the poor among the general category and did not find it even fit to bestow Bharat Ratna to Babasaheb Ambedkar. “And this Congress is giving us sermons on social justice!” he said.

“The Congress has always been against Dalits, backwards and tribals. Sometimes I think, had Babasaheb not been there… perhaps SC/STs would not have got the reservation,” he said, going on to quote excerpts from a letter written by then PM Jawaharlal Nehru to chief ministers. “I am reading out its translation… ‘I dislike any kind of reservation, more particularly in jobs. I am strongly against anything that leads to inefficiency and second-rate standards’… That is why I say that they (the Congress) are against it (reservation) by birth,” Modi said.

On Rahul’s repeated assertion that only three of the 90 bureaucrats at the top level are OBCs, Modi said: “Those who reel out figures today… it is because they had stopped recruitment at that. Had they recruited them in the government and promoted them from time to time, they (the backwards) would have been here today.”

He pointed out that the Congress had fielded a candidate against Droupadi Murmu when the NDA fielded her for the post of President. “It was not an ideological fight… You fielded a candidate (Yashwant Sinha) who had left us (the BJP)… So it was not an ideological opposition. Your opposition was to a tribal daughter. We first made a Dalit (Ram Nath Kovind) and then a tribal (Murmu) President.”

Modi also referred to the ouster of Sitaram Kesri as Congress president in 1998. “Kesri, who was from a most backward class, was picked up and thrown on the footpath… That video is available.”

Status of institutions: ‘What about Emergency?’

Taking on the oft-repeated charge of the Congress and other Opposition parties that his government was trampling upon institutions and strangling democracy, Modi referred to the Emergency, and how the government led by Indira Gandhi had “imprisoned the dignity of the Constitution and democracy” and tried to shut down newspapers.

Referring to the dismissal of elected governments using Article 356 under the Congress, the PM said: “This Congress is giving us sermons on democracy and federalism!”

It was the Congress that had left no stone unturned to divide the country on caste, community and religious lines, Modi said.

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