Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech today drew flak from the opposition, with the Congress describing it as “most disappointing” and the Left downplaying it as “nothing spectacular”. Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Modi had not shown “sensitivity” to the Gorakhpur tragedy — the death of infants in a UP hospital — by comparing it with natural calamities and said the PM should have given an account of the “failure” of his government. “The Prime Minister’s Independence Day address has been most disappointing. After three years, it was time for him to give an account of the failure of his government in fulfilling its promises to the people, especially the youth, farmers and weaker sections,” he told reporters here.
On Modi’s call for embracing strife-hit Kashmiris, Sharma said, “We have never stopped him from embracing Kashmiris. He should talk to all sections and create a national consensus as well as in Kashmir.” CPI national secretary D Raja said there was “nothing spectacular” in Modi’s speech and alleged he lacked conviction when he talked about embracing Kashmiris. “They (the government) believe in a military solution to the dispute but he talks about embracing Kashmiris. There is no conviction in what he said,” Raja said. National Conference working president Omar Abdullah in a Tweet alluded to Modi’s remark that the Kashmir issue would not be resolved by abuse and bullets. “I guess that covers both sides – terrorists and security forces,” he said. While referring to the Gorakhpur deaths, Sharma said Modi did not reflect the gravity of the situation. “He has in a very trivial manner equated the Gorakhpur tragedy to national calamities,” the Congress leader said.
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On demonetisation, Abdullah tweeted, “This is welcome news”. But he took a dig at the government with, “It also means RBI has finished counting demonetised notes to arrive at this firm figure of 3 lakh crores. Excellent.” Referring to Modi’s assertion that violence in the name of faith was “not acceptable”, Raja said the PM should first ask RSS-BJP cadres to “stop engaging in communal attacks”. “What the prime minister said should be taken seriously by the RSS-BJP themselves,” the CPI leader said. Sharma wondered what had stopped the prime minister or home minister from acting against those who had “created an atmosphere of fear and violence due to which people are feeling insecure”. “Why has action not been taken against such individuals or organisations, when they have their government in the Centre and states? Why have they not been arrested,” he asked.
Raja also hit out Modi for not talking about jobs generated for the country’s youth. Sharma said Modi had promised to create 2 crore jobs every year but was not talking about employment any more. He said while the prime minister was taking the credit for GST and the fight against black money, he should have shown “some grace and humility” to acknowledge the “constructive cooperation” of the opposition in ushering in the new tax regime. “We did not expect the prime minister while addressing the country to completely ignore and then expect cooperation and endorsement from the opposition. His fight against black money was a sham and remains a sham,” he said, accusing the government of promoting crony capitalism. “Why has this government not given an account of how much black money there is in the money that has come back to the RBI vaults,” he asked.
Referring to the fight against corruption, he said, “The country and we have to ask the prime minister why in three years the Lokpal has not been appointed.” “If he believes in his words, then he has to be accountable for the non-appointment of the lokpal, for the dilution of anti-corruption laws and the RTI,” he said. The prime minister has “true to his characteristic style” been “disrespectful” to the memory of his predecessors, he said. “Modi did not mention those who fought for and gave freedom to this country, who built the foundations of modern and self-reliant India,” Sharma said.