Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu today hit back at opposition parties for accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “authoritarian”, saying they had “completely forgotten the dark days of Emergency” clamped by Indira Gandhi. Naidu, who holds the portfolio of information and broadcasting, claimed that as more leaders of opposition parties were “getting trailed for their deeds of corruption”, they were finding the prime minister authoritarian. The comments came after some opposition leaders alleged that Modi and the RSS were trying to impose “one idea” on the country and that the prime minister was unilaterally making all the decisions. The remarks were made by leaders during a meeting on the occasion of 94th birthday of veteran politician M Karunanidhi in Chennai. Naidu claimed the level and quality of such criticism revealed the unbridgeable disconnect between those parties and the people of the county.
He said it showed the mounting frustration of opposition parties over the growing appeal of the prime minister among the people and steady political expansion of the BJP since 2014. “While accusing the prime minister of being authoritarian, these leaders have completely forgotten the dark days of Emergency clamped by former prime minister Indira Gandhi. The dubious theory of Indira is India and India is Indira…,” Naidu said in a statement.
He also claimed that there was “denigration of the dignity and authority of the institution of the prime minister during the 10 years of the UPA rule” and a “gross abuse of power for personal and family gains during the Congress rule”. “What is more amazing is that the communists seem to have forgotten all the hoary past under the Congress and their own rule. This amnesia could only be explained by their getting rolled out of the country’s political canvas,” he said.
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Naidu said the the prime minister has certain authority given by the people to do the needful to make a difference to their lives. “Modi is only making full use of that authority in all responsibility to make a difference to the lives of the people,” he said. Modi’s “decisive and courageous” use of such authority was already evident in the way corruption was being wiped out, governance was being improved and people being made partners in development planning and execution, he claimed. He said Modi from the day one in office has been stressing on making the people partners in policy making and implementation. Naidu said there was a difference in a Prime Minister being assertive and being authoritarian. “Modi is an assertive prime minister for sure and that is what the people of the country would like him to be. He can never be authoritarian as he has no personal agenda unlike the others the country has seen,” he said.
Referring to rules relating to regulation of the sale of cattle, Naidu charged opposition of “indulging in a disinformation campaign”. The minister said the Kerala High Court has rightly asked where is the ban and pointed out that the order restricted sale of cattle at the markets. He said the government never interferes in the food habits of people as it is their personal matter. “The opposition is issue-less, frustrated and demoralised and hence indulging in disinformation. We (NDA) are united, they are divided, we are confident, they are diffident,” Naidu said.