Addressing newly sworn-in Parliamentarians on the 44th anniversary of the Emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his parliamentary address on Tuesday, June 25, by stressing that his government is pro-poor and on the need to rise beyond families. “The decisions we have taken will benefit farmers, traders, youngsters, and other sections of society,” he declared, promising to fulfill that agenda.
Responding to the motion of thanks on President Ram Nath Kovind’s address detailing the roadmap for NDA 2.0 last week, PM Modi slammed the opposition for championing Muslim appeasement and failing to implement Uniform Civil Code, and thus protect women of the community. Speaking of the triple talaq bill, he spoke of the sea of opportunities it offers to improve the conditions of married Muslim women, and urged those opposing it to come around and make it happen.
On Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah also tabled his first bill in the Lok Sabha, that proposes to give reservation in educational institutions and government jobs to those living within 10 kilometres of the International Border in Jammu, at par with people living along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Amendment Bill has earlier been enforced as an ordinance. Its enactment would lead to reservation of state government jobs for Jammu and Kashmir youths, who are from economically weaker sections, belonging to any religion or caste.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is expected to table the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the upcoming sessions.
Modi’s pitch for a new India
Formally kicking off the Lok Sabha Budget Session, PM Modi pitched for corporate investments in agriculture and alleviation of poverty through modernisation, batting for a safe, strong, inclusive “new India.”
“There is no place for corruption in our nation. Our fight against corruption will continue,” he asserted.
Modi also shed crucial light on his government’s plan to develop India into a $5trillion economy, by promoting and improving tourism, News18 reported.
He further pitched for unity and raised slogans of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, and Jai Anusandhan’ while ignoring the ruckus over BJP MPs signing off with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ in the recent swearing-in ceremony [in response, Opposition leaders had raised of a volley of sectarian slogans ranging from Jai Ma Kali, Allahu Akbar, and Jai Bhim].
Launching into an all-too-familiar diatribe of military braggadocio, Modi asked his opponents: “Today China exports defence equipment and we are the world’s biggest importer. What will you do making fun of ‘Make in India’? You might sleep better, but will it be good for the nation?”
“People of India are ready for change. Let’s all work together to build a new India, an innovative India,” he said in conclusion.
What else he said
Other issues he mentioned include the burgeoning water crisis, invoking BR Ambedkar’s contribution to waterways and irrigation, to imply that the nation needs to rise above politics to avert a public health catastrophe in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Among other dates of historical importance mentioned were the upcoming 150th and 75th anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and Indian Independence respectively.
Recalling the troubled era to underline the importance of democracy, he said the Indira-Gandhi ordained Emergency crushed India’s soul. He reassured that the NDA government will try its best to remove “diseases” festering for over 70 years.
He also took individual potshots at opposition MPs including the likes of West Bengal’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who had issued harsh criticism of the government earlier this week.
Complaining that the Congress never acknowledged the contribution of others, and challenging his peers to count the number of times the UPA government praised AB Vajpayee or Narasimha Rao, Modi declaimed, “We don’t waste time in pulling others down. We believe in raising our standards of work. Congress rose so high that it has been disconnected from reality, but we dream of sticking to the roots.”
If’s and but’s
It is interesting that the prime minister referred to the Emergency because many global and Indian authors have drawn parallels, between the kind of governance India has witnessed in the last five years and the dark Emergency period, when “media was muzzled and national heroes were jailed…spirit of the Constitution [trampled], and the judiciary [bullied].”
Modi also attempts to separate himself from the increasing discrepancies in jailing alleged offenders while letting others go scot-free—or with a slap on the wrist for equally heinous allegations. He argued that his government never interferes with the judiciary, but ignored the role of law enforcement authorities in leading unwarranted raids, covering up tracks for those with political clout, and ignoring atrocities committed against minorities. Even an investigation agency as nodal as the CBI revealed deep rot in its top ranks last year, deepening the problem of corruption in the country.
On Monday, the government rejected a US assessment of right-wing extremism and virulent nationalism in the country that was inciting attacks against religious minorities and Dalit communities. Among his goals, the PM claimed on Tuesday, June 25, the most dubious was perhaps his sincerity in creating an inclusive India where “the common man” no longer “has to fight and compromise with basic needs.”
It remains to be seen, over the next five years of their reign at the Centre, how the prime minister and his government hope to rise above the criticisms levelled against them in this very realm of social justice.
Thousands of acres of mangroves will probably be sacrificed at the altar of modernisation, for the sake of a bullet train project running through two states reeling under the most acute agrarian and water crises.
Prarthana Mitra is a Staff Writer at Qrius.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius