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Opposition Walk out in Rajya Sabha as Modi Attacked Sonia, Rahul Gandhi

Opposition Walk out in Rajya Sabha as Modi Attacked Sonia, Rahul Gandhi

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, July 3: The entire opposition in the Rajya Sabha walked out of the House on Wednesday during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President for her address to the joint houses of Parliament after his swipe at the former Congress president Sonia Gandhi indirectly hitting her of running the Manmohan Singh government from behind the curtain.

“These people are used to running the government on auto pilot and remote pilot. They don’t believe in working, they just know how to wait,” he said aiming at Mrs Gandhi, now a member of the upper house. The leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and the Congress president was immediately up on his feet requesting permission from the chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to interject, but was refused.

The entire opposition led by Mr Kharge then walked out of the House in protest. Among those who joined the opposition walk-out were all the nine members of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD, an ally of the BJP in the Modi 2.0 government, who for the first time joined the opposition ranks after being thrown out of the power by the BJP in Odisha.

As Mr Modi continued to speak, members of the Opposition were heard demanding that Mr Kharge be allowed to intervene. Opposition MPs raised slogans of “LOP ko bolne do.” Mr Kharge, too, was heard requesting the Chairman repeatedly for an opportunity to intervene. “We want to put forth our views, please,” the 81-year-old said. The slogans then changed to “jhoot bolna band karo (stop lying)” and “sharm karo (please have shame).”

“The Opposition cannot listen to replies of questions they raised and can only run away,” Mr Modi said on the back of the opposition members walking out of the House. Accusing the previous government of being run on “auto pilot,” the Prime Minister said, “But we leave no stone unturned in hard work. We would step up what we did in the last 10 years. Considering what our dreams are, these 10 years were an appetiser. The main course has started now,” the Prime Minister said.

Commenting on the opposition walk out, Mr Dhankhar said, the Opposition’s conduct was not appropriate. “I strongly condemn unparliamentary practice, please take your seats.” As the slogans continued, the Prime Minister paused his speech on the government’s achievements and said, “Mr Chairman, the country is watching. Those spreading lies do not have the guts to listen to the truth. They cannot sit and listen to the answers to the questions they raised. They are insulting the Upper House, its traditions. The people have defeated them in every way and they don’t have any other option other than shouting in alleys.” “Sloganeering, shouting and running away, this is their destiny,” the Prime Minister said, as the Opposition walked out.

Doubling down on his offensive of targeting the Congress over Emergency to counter the Opposition’s Constitution push, Mr Modi said. “I say with all seriousness that Congress is the biggest opponent of Constitution.” He referred to the 1977 Lok Sabha election held after the Emergency, and said the people of the country had then voted to restore democracy. “There has been no bigger election to protect the Constitution. In 1977, the country showed democracy runs in its veins,” he said. “If the election this year was to defend the Constitution, then the people of the country found us up to it,” the Prime Minister added.

Mr Kharge later said in a social media post that INDIA parties walked out because “PM Modi was lying.” “He claims that we are against the Constitution, but the TRUTH is that BJP-RSS, Jan Sangh and their political forefathers had fiercely opposed the Constitution of India.” “They had burnt the effigies of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru at that time. This was a shameful thing and an affront to Democratic values. The truth is that Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar had given the credit of drafting the Constitution to the Congress party,” he said.

Several opposition parties also joined the Congress to condemn Mr Modi’s criticism of the grand old party and accusing the Lok Sabha leader of the opposition Rahul Gandhi of behaving in a childish manner. The Opposition has said the Prime Minister resorted to such attacks because he had no answer to the many questions on burning issues such as NEET row raised by Mr Gandhi while participating in the debate on the motion of thanks to the President on Monday.

Replying to the Motion of thanks to the President’s address, the Prime Minister launched a scathing attack on the Congress and particularly Mr Gandhi, who had earlier hit out at the BJP in his remarks on Monday. Responding to Mr Gandhi’s allegations that the Centre had used probe agencies to target him, Mr Modi said, “Laments of ‘balak buddhi’ went on, ‘I have been beaten’. A new drama was rolled out to gain sympathy. The fact is he is on bail in a corruption case of thousands of crore of rupees, was convicted for calling an OBC community thief and had to tender an apology before the Supreme Court for speaking lies,” he said.

“This ‘balak buddhi’ (childish mind) at times tries to hug someone in the House and sometime winks,” the Prime Minister said. He was referring to the 2018 episode in which Mr Gandhi had walked across the treasury benches and hugged Prime Minister Modi.

The Opposition INDIA bloc member, Samajwadi Party, too, hit back at the Prime Minister for his “balak buddhi” jab at Rahul Gandhi. “All these things are said so that no one asks questions on NEET. Those saying balak buddhi are balak (children) themselves because when people have chosen someone, such comments should not be made. There are balak in the government who are still not able to understand the country’s problems,” Kannauj MP and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said.

The former Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, once the BJP’s friend in need whose support helped several contentious bills clear Rajya Sabha during Modi 2.0, were on the other side today, weeks after the BJP dealt the party a massive defeat. While the party has drawn blank in the Lok Sabha, Mr Patnaik has told BJD’s nine Rajya Sabha MPs to emerge as a “vibrant and strong” opposition. The BJD’s leader in the Upper House Sasmit Patra said the party’s MPs were determined to agitate if the Centre ignored Odisha’s interests. “The BJD MPs this time will not be confined to speaking on issues only, but are determined to agitate if the BJP-led government at the Centre ignores Odisha’s interests.” He said Mr Patnaik has given clear instructions to BJD MPs to fight for the rights of the state’s people in the Parliament.




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