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Modi, BJP Show Attacking Mood, Reminds Emergency, Opposition Jointly Hit Back

Modi, BJP Show Attacking Mood, Reminds Emergency, Opposition Jointly Hit Back

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 24: Despite giving a relatively poor performance and ending short of the majority mark in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP showed signs of continuing to remain aggressive and not to yield any ground to the opposition who have returned with a much larger size in the current 18th Lok Sabha.

The House began on Monday with the newly-elected members taking oath led by Mr Modi who in his customary style hit out at the Congress reminding the county that Tuesday would be 50th anniversary of the imposition of emergency in the country by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when “the constitution was set aside and the country turned into a big jail.”

The opposition, who in a show of unity first outside the House and marched in together, hit back at Mr Modi for needlessly reminding about a 50 year old event which is long ago “done and dusted” and advised him to live in the present when the country was agitated over the NEET-UG and other sensitive exams paper leak, continued violence in Manipur and other issues.

“You are talking about emergency of 1975 which is long back forgotten, but what about the undeclared emergency of the last 10 years,” the Congress president and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge asked Mr Modi.

Starting off the first Parliament session in his third term on the front foot, the Prime Minister launched an ‘Emergency’ attack towards the main Opposition Congress before the Lok Sabha met on Monday morning. Addressing the media before the House met, the Prime Minister said this June 25 — tomorrow — will mark the 50th anniversary of the Emergency and called it a “black spot” on the country’s democracy.

This Parliament sessions comes after the general elections and the Opposition is buoyed by its good show that restricted the BJP below the majority mark. The Prime Minister has returned to the top post with the support of NDA allies and the Opposition plans to use its numerical strength to corner the government on the House floor.

The tone of the Prime Minister’s address, however, suggests that the BJP may have suffered a setback, but it has no plan to let the Opposition have its way. The Prime Minister assured the people that the government will work three times harder in its third term and deliver three-fold results.

This election, he said, was significant because this was the second government after Independence that has been chosen to continue for a third term in a row. “This opportunity has come after 60 years. When people have chosen a government for the third term, it means a stamp on its intent, a stamp on its policies and its dedication. I thank the people for this,” he told the media.

Referring to the Emergency imposed by the then Indira Gandhi government, he said, “Tomorrow marks 50 years of the black spot on Indian democracy. The new generation will not forget how the Indian Constitution was scrapped, how the country was turned into a jail and democracy was captured. In this 50th anniversary, the country will take a pledge that never again will it happen.”

The Prime Minister said the government would consistently try to take everyone along to serve the country and its people, but added a stern message for the Opposition. “India needs a responsible Opposition, people want substance not slogans, they want debate, diligence not drama and disturbance in Parliament. I hope the Opposition will live up to the people’s expectations,” he said.

The country, he said, has a lot of expectations from MPs and urged them to take every possible step for public welfare. The Prime Minister congratulated the newly elected MPs and noted that this is the first time new MPs will take the oath in the new Parliament building.

The Prime Minister’s remarks and swipes targeting the Congress drew a sharp response. Mr Kharge said the country was expecting that the Prime Minister would speak about the protests surrounding NEET, the train accident in West Bengal or the continuing violence in Manipur.

“You are warning the Opposition. You are talking about the 50-year-old Emergency, but have forgotten the undeclared Emergency in the last 10 years,” Mr Kharge said, adding that the people have “given a mandate against Modiji”. The Congress chief said the INDIA Opposition bloc will raise the people’s voice inside and outside the Parliament.

Several other opposition leaders also hit back at the Prime Minister for his “Emergency” remark questioning his government’s style of functioning and saying that it needed to focus on present issues.

Reacting to the remark, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said as usual Mr Modi has nothing new to offer and was so indulging in diversionary tactics. “The PM has shown no evidence that he understood the true meaning of people’s verdict,” he added.

Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress said the BJP fell short of a majority in the election because the people of the country have realised that it was against the Constitution. “From 303, the BJP is down to 240, they are running a minority government. They kept saying ‘400-paar’ but could not even get a simple majority.

“The only reason is that the people of the country have understood that there is BJP on one side and the Constitution on the other. People have chosen the Constitution,” Ms Moitra said.

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Desai said the Emergency period was long over and the government should focus on the present. “The Emergency period has gone, but what is the situation today? No one likes recalling the Emergency… I hope the dark days don’t return,” he said.

RSP leader N.K. Premchandran also said that talking about the 1975 Emergency was “insignificant” at this juncture. Azad Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) MP Chandrashekhar said the Prime Minister should follow his own advice.

The Opposition INDIA bloc members waved copies of the Constitution in Parliament as Mr Modi took oath as a member of the 18th Lok Sabha. Home Minister Amit Shah was also greeted in a similar manner.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool leader Kalyan Banerjee, and Samajwadi Party leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Awadhesh Prasad were seated in the first row in the Opposition benches.

The Lok Sabha witnessed a display of linguistic diversity with the newly-elected MPs taking their oaths in English and Indian languages, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Dogri, Bengali, Assamese and Odia.

Mr Modi took his oath in Hindi amid slogans of “Jai Shri Ram” from the treasury benches while Mr Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Women and Child Development Minister Annapurna Devi, Telecom Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Urban Development Minister M.L. Khattar were also among those who took oath in Hindi.

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the MP from Odisha’s Sambalpur, took oath in Odia. Suresh Gopi, the first BJP MP to be elected from Kerala, took his oath in Malayalam, after invoking gods, saying “Krishna, Guruvayurappa.”

Shripad Yesso Naik, the MoS for Power and Renewable Energy, took his oath in Sanskrit. MoS for Education and Development of North Eastern Region Sukanta Majumdar took his oath in Bengali. Pune MP Muralidhar Mohol, the MoS for Aviation, took his oath in Marathi.

Union Minister Jitender Singh, the MP from Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur took his oath in Dogri. Union Minister of Port and Shipping Sarbananda Sonowal and Aviation Minister Rammohan Naidu took their oaths in Assamese and Telugu, respectively.

Steel and Heavy Industries Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Consumer Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi took their oaths in Kannada while Coal and Mines Minister G. Kishan Reddy took his oath in Telugu.

The BJP MP from Saran in Bihar Rajiv Pratap Rudy rued the fact that he could not take the oath in Bhojpuri. The MPs can subscribe to the oath or affirmation in English or any of the 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. Bhojpuri, however, is not listed in the Eighth Schedule.

Abdul Rashid Sheikh could not take oath as a member of the 18th Lok Sabha despite his name being called as he is lodged in jail since 2019 after being charged by the NIA in a terror-funding case.

Rashid, popularly known as Engineer Rashid, defeated former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah to win the parliamentary polls from the Baramulla seat as an Independent candidate. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail.

Meanwhile, the BJP president and Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda has been named Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha. Mr Nadda replaces Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who recently won the Lok Sabha election and took oath on Monday as a member of the Lower House of Parliament.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Besides Mr Nadda, 11 other members of the Upper House of Parliament are in the Union Council of Ministers.


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