In a scathing attack on the government, Opposition today accused it of making “mockery of nationalism” as it voiced concern over the flare up of events related to JNU while the basic issues like poverty, unemployment and growth took a backseat.
Participating in a discussion on ‘Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in Rajya Sabha, Sharad Yadav (JDU) raked up the JNU issue and said archaic laws are being used as weapons against the youth.
“Why are you making a mockery of nationalism” at the cost of real issues,” he asked the government and contended that the sitution has deteriorated to such an extent that people no longer feel safe in the country.
“I have not come across in my life such display of nationalism… Kanhaiya was beaten up…videos have been doctored…All professors in JNU will search Kanhaiya’s hideouts,” Yadav said.
Archaic laws of 1860 were used as weapons against the youth, he alleged and added that by arresting youths in the name of sedition, the government was giving weapons in the hands of unemployed youth to shout slogans and be arrested to get food in jail.
Taking a jibe at the ruling party, he said that such was the atmosphere of fear that mere mention of God, Godesses or their carriers like rat or owl could arouse the emotions of the ruling party.
Fancy names are being chosen for schemes like Namami Gange, he said and alleged that “some people were conniving with contractors” for construction activities on Ganges which would be like “foeticide” instead of “saving Ganga”, Yadav said.
“Farmers are committing suicide daily, there is huge NPA of Rs 4.26 lakh crore …never in the history was dal so costly,” he said and added that oil prices reduced from USD 110 a barrel to USD 28 a barrel but there was no respite to people.
Accusing the Modi government of politicising the suicide of Dalit student Rohith Vemula, he said on the one side reservation was offered and on the other suppressed.
Vemula episode and the “arrogance” with which Minister gave “false statement” is not proper in a democracy, Yadav said without naming HRD Minister Smriti Irani. Yadav alleged that the government was indulging in caste politics and demanded a separate debate on caste system.
He also rued that there was no mention of corruption in President’s address.
Derek O’Brien (Trinamool) said he wished that at least diversity, tolerance and communal harmony had been included in President’s speech.
Taking a dig a BJP leaders, he said while Leader of Lok Sabha (Modi) is saying that opposition should allow debate, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha (Arun Jaitley) had said it is opposition’s right to disrupt and prove their point.
He alleged that most of the programmes were not implemented wisely and the government was only good in “coining names” for programmes.
“They say trust the poor. I want to ask whether the poor trust them? We will be holding 12-hour debate and during this, 12 farmers will commit suicide,” the Trinamool leader said.
Referring to the JNU issue, he said instead of putting the youth behind the bars, the government could have created jobs. He also alleged that politics could not bring Rohith Vemula back.
O’Brien quoted King George III to say “Everyone who does not agree with me is a traitor” and added that this appears to be true in terms of the present government.
Whether health, agriculture or other indices, the government scored poorly and should learn from West Bengal government, said the Trinamool leader whose party is in power in that state.
On a proposal to tax PF, he said like a college comedy, government was issuing clarfications for clarifications.
Attacking government on digital India, he questioned whether it was a ‘digital India’ or ‘divisive India’ as he accused the government of using technology including WhatsApp and modified videos to meet its objective.
“RSS has a unique medical college where they don’t teach gynaecology…and teach doctored videology…Please do not use technology like this,” he said and added “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.”
He also attacked the Left parties and quoted Nehru and Ambedkar.
He quoted Nehru to say that Communist Parties associate with political violence arousing certain evil tendencies and mentioned Nandigram and other incidents.
O’Brien said youth are the future of the nation and intellectual freedom should be restored. Vijila Sathyananth (AIADMK) praised the President’s address for its strong and forward looking approach.
She, however opposed the government’s proposal to tax 60 per cent of withdrawals from provident fund, including Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF).
Criticising the move as an “inhuman violation of natural justice”, Sathyananth said that the government has no right to put restrictions on workers from withdrawing their hard earned money from the EPF.
She added that the President’s address did not talk on inter-state water disputes and the issue of interlinking of rivers.
Sathyananth raised the issue of the island of Katchatheevu and said the government should work towards a permanent solution of this as well as in cooperation with international organisations on war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils.
NCP leader Praful Patel said, “Much has been, had been and is being promised. It is welcome. But after almost two years, people will like to see the fulfillment of these promises.”
Referring to instances such as those of the alleged hate speech in Agra, anti-nationalism row, JNU issue, he said on one hand, the government talks of economic growth and development, while on the other one sees “such” issues almost everyday in newspapers and televisions.
“What is happening in the country. The mood is tense. In which age are we living today,” he questioned.
Patel added the President would have had delivered his address with a heavy heart.
He stressed that all the past government’s including the last UPA government had worked for social justice and inclusion and it is not the effort of the present government alone.
Praising the the government’s focus on agriculture, Patel said the last government did many things for the benefit of the farm sector in the country and infact, the foodgrain production in 2013-14 has been a record under the then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
On crop loans, he said that the UPA government’s brought down the interest to 4 per cent and its contribution towards uplifting the conditions of the farmers is much more than that of the present government.
Talking about drought in Marathwada and parts of Maharashtra, Patel questioned the relief efforts of the Centre and the state government in tackling it.
The NCP leader also attacked the government on its schemes such as the ‘Make in India’, Skill India, asking “What is the take home value from the programmes?”.
“Everyday you may raise expectations, you may promise everything under the sun, but the proof of the pudding is in eating it,” he added. Ahmed Patel (Cong) contended that the situation in the country is “deteriorating” and criticised the government for presenting a “rosy picture” on it.
He said the attention of the people is being diverted from important issues by the government.
Defending Rahul Gandhi and other party colleague Anand Sharma and CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury for going to JNU to show solidarity with students, he said even Narendra Modi, then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had gone to Mumbai during the 26/11 attacks and held a press conference.
“So don’t blame Gandhi, Sharma and Yechury if they went to JNU,” he added.
He said there is an urgent need to re-think on slapping of sedition cases and sensitive issues like anti-nationalism.
Accusing the government of “straying” from the promises made during the elections, Ahmed Patel said NDA’s defeat in the Bihar assembly elections had changed government’s agenda.
“Polarisation is being done now,” he said.
He claimed that the government has manipulated the GDP figures, while the situation is completely different and the Rupee is at its lowest.
“Foreign policy is also a failure, particularly regarding Pakistan and Nepal. When we met with Pakistan you said ‘we ate biryani’, now you straight away landed in Lahore and what you ate, we don’t know,” he added.
He added that Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna is a failure and the ‘Make in India’ programme, which has a lion as it monogram, is a “hollowgram”.
He claimed that the government’s smart cities plan is nothing but “smart real estate”. He also attacked the Atal Pension Yojna.
He said there is a need for all the parties to come together and work for the development of the people and the country.
Choudhary Munawwar Saleem (SP) attacked the government saying its promises are just announcements.
He claimed that Muslims are being ignored.
On Prime Minister’s Pakistan visit, he said: “You went to Pakistan, gifted a shawl to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife and toughed his mother’s feet, but we would have appreciated had he apologised to the widow of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri on not being able to save the life of the Congress leader,” he added.
Jafri was killed in the Gulbarg society violence during the riots in Gujarat in 2002. Munawwar Saleem said he has submitted a CD to government on a hate slogan in Vidisha.
The SP member also said that unless the issues of farmers and the poor are addressed, the country will not develop.
Sukhendhu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) also took on the government over the President’s Address saying it was all “myth and dream”.
Reciting songs of Mohammed Rafi and referring to Bollywood movie Naya Daur, he warned that if the government does not mend its ways, time will teach it a lesson.
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (SAD) criticised Congress for its role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots and demanded justice for the community.
Drawing parallels, Dhindsa said while nothing was done to those related to Nathuram Godse after Mahatma Gandhi’s killing and Tamils after the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, 3000 Sikhs were killed after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
Vijaylaxmi Sadho (Congress) said BJP leaders have no right to question them on nationalism as they never participated in the independence movement and it was the Congress leaders who played a significant role in building the nation.
Pramod Tiwari (Congress) said though he respected the President, there was nothing in his address as it had the statement of a desperate and disappointed government, which he did not support.
He said the large number of promises made by the Prime Minister have remained unfulfilled and listed out some such promises like Rs 15 lakh in every account after bringing back black money, providing 2 crore jobs to youth, among others.
Talking about the recent agitation by jats in Haryana, he accused the BJP government in Haryana of failing in its responsibility to govern as property worth Rs 35,000 crore was destroyed and women were dishonoured.
“Such a government in Haryana should be sacked. The Chief Minister has no right to be in power,” he said.
Tiwari said over 1,000 farmers have committed suicide and the arrogance of this government will bring it down and cited the example of Ravana whose arrogance also brought his empire down.