With so many Bills, including the crucial goods and services tax (GST) Bill, pending in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought the support of the entire Opposition to help the House function efficiently and reminded the Congress that the GST Bill was actually the brainchild of the UPA.
However, Modi deftly skipped controversial issues like the arrest of a student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University, the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula or even the latest public outrage over taxing a part of the Employees’ Provident Fund withdrawal during his 75-minute speech in the Lok Sabha.
The PM, nevertheless, sharpened his criticism of the Congress for stalling Parliament, saying it was doing so due to “jealousy” and “inferiority complex” of its top leaders and suggesting the main Opposition party was not allowing “young” and “bright” leaders to emerge fearing they might overshadow Rahul Gandhi.
Arguing why some Bills such as the Whistleblowers Protection Amendment Bill, meant for enlightening the citizens, be stopped, Modi also wondered how the Congress had been trying to make it tough for the government to clear the GST Bill, especially in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA is in a minority. “It (GST Bill) is yours only, still it is being stopped,” he said.
Talking about attempts by the Opposition to “halt” development of the country, Modi cited a statement made by Indira Gandhi in 1974 in which she had wondered why some people try to portray the image of the country in such a manner as if India is standing with a begging bowl.
Modi also paid back in sarcasm to Rahul Gandhi’s attack on Wednesday over various initiatives of the government, including the ‘Make-in-India’ programme and MGNREGA. “You are mocking ‘Make in India’? If it is not successful, you should suggest what should be done to make it successful,” he said.
On Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s charge about corruption in the MGNREGA, the PM said, “I agree 1,000%.” But he went on to suggest that corruption was rampant in the MGNREGA during the tenure of previous UPA government. He added the CAG in its report of 2012 had pointed out corruption in MGNREGA. “We have tried to learn something from that. We are trying to make it foolproof and ensure that targeted people get benefits,” he added.