Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his speech ahead of the first session of the 18th Lok Sabha, failed to mention alleged irregularities in entrance examinations and the recent train accident West Bengal.

Kharge also questioned why Modi did not speak about violence in Manipur and the floods in northeastern India.

The prime minister, the Council of Ministers and other newly-elected MPs took the oath as members of the Lok Sabha on the opening day of its first session that will end on July 3.

Ahead of the session, Modi addressed the media and said that the people of the country wanted substance and not slogans from the Opposition. “People expect good steps from the Opposition but it has been disappointing so far,” Modi said.

In response, Kharge on social media said that the nation was hoping that the prime minister would address important issues in his speech before the session. “Clearly, even after moral and political defeat, the arrogance remains!” he said on social media.

The Congress president said that Modi failed to take responsibility for the “massive rigging and corruption of his government” in entrance examinations.

He was referring to the recent allegations of paper leaks and other irregularities in the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test for admission to undergraduate medical courses and the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test for the post of assistant professor in universities and colleges. Both these examinations are conducted by the National Testing Agency.

Kharge said also said that the prime minister “remained silent” in his speech about the train accident in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district on June 17 that killed 10 persons and the violence in Manipur.

Violence between Manipur’s Meitei and Kuki communities has left at least 225 persons dead and displaced 60,000 people from their homes since the beginning of the clashes in May 2023.

Since June 6, when a Meitei man was found murdered, around 120 houses, belonging to both the Meitei and Hmar-Kuki-Zomi communities, have been torched in the district.

In his address on Monday, Modi referred to the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. “Tomorrow is 25 June, 50 years ago on this day a black spot was put on the Constitution,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying. “We will try [to ensure] that such a stain never comes to the country.”

Kharge, in response, said: “You are reminding us of the 50-year-old Emergency, but have forgotten the last 10 years of Undeclared Emergency, which was ended by the people.”

He added that the citizens of the country had “given their mandate” against the prime minister. “Despite this, if he has become the Prime Minister, then he should work.”

In the recently-concluded Lok Sabha election, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 240 Lok Sabha seats, a significant dip from its tally of 303 seats in 2019. As it fell short of the majority mark of 272 seats, it had to depend on its coalition partners in the National Democratic Alliance – primarily the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (United) – to form the government.