February 7, 2017 12:50:30 pm
In his reply to the discussion on motion of thanks to the President’s address on February 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday said that not many were lucky to join the freedom struggle before the country gained independence, but they are living and working towards the betterment of India. “There are many people here like me who were born after independence, we were not lucky to fight in the freedom struggle, but we are living and working for India,” said PM Modi.
The prime minister’s reply, that lasted at least one-and-a-half hours, comes a day after Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge hit out at the ruling NDA, saying that Mahatma and Indira Gandhi sacrificed their lives for the nation but the BJP is diving the nation on religious lines. PM Modi also recalled the time during Emergency when opposition leaders were jailed and freedom of expression was curtailed.
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In a direct reference to the UPA dispensation at the Centre, PM Modi drew parallels between the working style of the Congress and the BJP. “In 2014 elections, one party was campaigning on whether they would give 9 or 12 cylinders. But after coming to power, we asked people whether they were willing to give up subsidy. So many people gave up subsidy,” he said. He, however, added that every government has made a contribution to the country.
Expressing surprise over the Swachh Bharat mission being turned into a political issue, PM Modi asked the Opposition to join hands and work with the government for a cleaner India. “I was surprised that there were some who made cleanliness also a political issue. Why can’t we work together on ushering a Swachh Bharat. When Rail budget was first presented, the transport sector was different. Now things are different & a more comprehensive look is needed,” he said.
On demonetisation, he said the government was ready to debate the issue. “We were always ready for a debate on demonetisation…you were more interested in giving TV bytes than engage in a debate,” PM Modi said. PM Modi defended his move to scrap old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, saying that the decision was taken at the right time as the economy was doing well. “When can you have an operation? When the body is healthy. The economy was doing well and thus our decision was taken at the right time,” he said. He equated the move to Swachh Bharat, a movement to clean India. “Like Swachh Bharat, the decision on demonetisation is a movement to clean India (from corruption and black money),” he said.
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Reacting to the Opposition protests against the Budget being presented ahead of elections in five states, PM Modi said “we do not see everything from the prism of elections. The interests of the nation are supreme for us”. “It does not matter how big you are, you will have to give back what belongs to the poor. My fight is for the poor,” he said.
Targeting the Congress, PM Modi questioned the party over failing to notify benami property in the last 26 years. “In 1988 when Rajiv Gandhi was prime minister, he had more majority in both Houses than Pandit Nehru. The Congress was everywhere from panchayat to Parliament. A bill was made to tackle benami property but it was never notified. Why, all these 26 years, the bill was never notified?” he said.
The prime minister also spoke about the surgical strikes applauding the armed forces for the decisive move.
“However much we praise the Army, it will fall short. The army is fully capable of protecting our country,” he said.
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