New Delhi: India is a union of states which cannot be ruled with a stick, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday, launching an attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union government saying they were bringing the concept of a king ruling the country back to India.
The Congress said the government’s approach has left India isolated in the world, and warned the government about China and Pakistan coming together against India as he participated in a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Speech.
Rahul Gandhi said India is a union of states, and states need to be consulted to govern the country. “No matter what fantasy you have, you cannot rule the people of India with a stick from the center… You can look at anyone who has ruled India, it has only been ruled by negotiation,” he said.
“This is a bouquet of flowers,” he said. Rahul Gandhi said the union government and the Prime Minister were not ready to talk to states about issues, and mentioned Tamil Nadu’s demand for scrapping the NEET exam in the state as an example. He also mentioned the farmers’ protests, and launched an attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Farmers of Punjab do not have a voice… Farmers can sit on protest for one year, the king does not care,” he said.
He said the Congress had samshed the concept of a king ruling the country in 1947, and accused the ruling BJP of trying to bring it back. He also said the government is fiddling with the country, and India cannot be a single empire. “My great grandfather spent 15 years in jail, my grandmother took 32 bullets, my father was blown to bits… ” he said.
He also alleged that the government has made mistakes as far as the foreign policy is concerned, and said India was isolated in the world. “RSS and BJP are playing with the foundation of this country.” “Ask yourself why we could not get a guest for Republic Day… we are isolated and surrounded,” he said.
“You got Pakistan and China together. China has a clear vision and plan… Look at the weapons they are buying, it clearly states we have made a major blunder. We need to make sure we can defend ourselves,” he said.
As treasury benches objected to his statement, the Congress leader said “we are all nationalists”. The Congress leader also mentioned data revealed by a recent report by Oxfam and said the wealthiest 10 per cent in India have amassed 45 per cent of the national wealth while the share of the bottom 50 per cent of the population is a mere 6 per cent. He said “two Indias” have been created, and the divide between rich and poor is increasing.
As members from the treasury benches continued to comment on his statement, the former Congress president said he was not criticising, but expressing his pain as a citizen of the country.
“The spirit with which I speak is not of criticism but discomfort. I am worried about what is happening,” he said. He also named Adani and Ambani groups and accused the government of favouring only big businesses. Talking about unemployment, he said the recent protests by students in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar over railway exams shows the situation, and said there was no mention of unemployment in the President’s speech.
The Congress leader also mentioned the Pegasus snooping software controversy, and said a “huge mistake” has been made with regards to Jammu and Kashmir. While treasury benches MPs disrupted the Congress leader’s speech several times, Opposition MPs also showed an aggressive stance in countering the ruling party members. At one point, Rahul Gandhi responded to the ruling party MPs saying, “disrespect me, but don’t disrespect India”.
The former Congress president was cheered by Opposition MPs, who thumped their desks and nodded in agreement as he spoke. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will reply to the debate on the motion of thanks, was not present in the Lok Sabha when Rahul Gandhi spoke. The PM was in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday morning during Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge’s speech in the debate.