New Delhi: “Main khada bhi hun aur apni baat pe ada bhi hun,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he responded to the hype around Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Parliament on Friday.
In April this year, Gandhi had claimed, “15 minute de dein, khare nahin ho payenge Lok Sabha mein (Give 15 minutes, Modi will not be able to face the Lok Sabha).”
Modi spent a substantial portion of his one-and-a-half-hour-long speech responding to the charges made by the Congress president.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had earlier told News18 that the Prime Minister would use the day to launch a Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi battle.
The moment of Modi’s much-anticipated speech was building for over seven hours since Gandhi’s emotional speech.
Over the course of his speech, Modi, apart from recounting the achievements of his four-year-old government, directly hit at the idea of an opposition Mahagathbandhan, the Congress’ ability to lead such a coalition, and Gandhi’s prime ministerial ambitions.
“Utho, utho, utho,” Modi mimicked Gandhi, who, at the end of his speech, had walked all the way across the hall towards the Prime Minister and hugged him after exchanging a few words.
“I will become the PM but there is great confusion over what will happen to others,” Modi said, mocking Gandhi’s attempts to stitch together an alliance to become the Prime Minister.
Modi said Friday’s floor test was not a test of confidence for the BJP and its allies but a test for the Congress and its flock. The Gandhi-led Congress wanted to test the strength of its allies and come out as the strongest contender, he said. “The entire process has been launched to remove just one person — Narendra Modi,” the Prime Minister said.
Responding to Gandhi’s statement that the BJP had taught him what it meant to be a Hindu and a Shiv Bhakt, Modi said, “These days some people are trying to worship Lord Shiv. I too offer prayers to Shiv and hope he gives you enough strength to re-initiate the no-confidence motion against my government in 2024.”
Modi also responded to charges levelled by the Congress chief that the Prime Minister had buckled under Beijing’s pressure and let down troops who braved Chinese aggression in Doklam.
“Will he [Rahul Gandhi] keep behaving so immaturely? These people come from the same party one of whose leaders described surgical strikes as ‘jumla’ strikes. You can swear and mock Narendra Modi as much as possible, but for God’s sake, do not mock our armed forces,” Modi said. He added, “Rahul Gandhi never made it clear whether he met the Chinese ambassador or not just when the whole country was trying to deal with the crisis in Doklam.”
He alleged that it was the arrogance of the Congress that was compelling it to behave the way it was — by floating a no-confidence motion that was bound to be defeated.
“Na manjhi na rahbar na haq mein haawayein
hai kasti bhi jarjar ye kaisa safar hai.”
“(Neither a boatman nor a guide, nor winds in your favour
Even the boat is decrepit, what a journey is this)”
Responding to Gandhi’s accusation that his statement on the Rafale deal had so shamed Modi that he could not bear to look into the eyes of the Congress president, the Prime Minister said he was the son of a backward-caste, poor mother and "could not dare to look Gandhi in the eye". “Aap naamdaar hain, hum kaamdaar hain (You’re a blue-blooded person while I’m just a blue-collared worker)”, Modi said.
The Prime Minister also attacked the idea of a reliable opposition coalition stitched together by the Congress by recounting all the alliances — starting from that offered by farmer leader Chandra Shekhar — where the Congress had prematurely pulled out. “Look what you did to Chandra Shekhar, what you did to Deve Gowda, what you did to Pranab Mukherjee,” he said.