The Congress on Tuesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview with news agency ANI a “monologue” and summarised it as “I, Me, Mine, Myself”. The party listed 10 questions for the prime minister, seeking answers on promises on jobs and black money and policies such as demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also accused Modi of “trying to sidestep” the Ram temple matter. During the interview, Modi had said his government will wait until the judicial process regarding the dispute over the Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya is complete before moving forward in the matter. “After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts,” Modi had said.
Surjewala said the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter “should be accepted by everyone”. “There is no need for an ordinance thereafter…the prime minister is trying to derail,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying during a press conference. Several Hindutva groups have demanded that the government pass an ordinance to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Surjewala asked if Modi was trying to please a particular constituency. “I hope [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief] Mohan Bhagwat and other colleagues of his are listening carefully – he has rejected his own party and the RSS’s demand,” Surjewala said. “We are happy that the prime minister is today stating that the Supreme Court will decide the issue, but he is trying to confuse and sidestep the issue by saying an ordinance will come thereafter. On the decision of the Supreme Court, there is no need for an ordinance, Mr prime minister – that is law of the land.”
Surjewala also said the interview was much ado about nothing, NDTV reported. “Is it not true that corruption today has scaled new heights?” Surjewala asked. “From the everyday life of the common man to the Rs 30,000-crore Rafale scam. And if nothing is wrong then why are you dodging a joint parliamentary committee probe?”
Mocking the interview, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said: “We have had five years of NaMonologues. Now he has graduated to friendly shadow boxing. When will FekuMaster do a real press conference?”
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said Modi’s remarks on the Ram temple were “a positive step” towards building the temple. “The prime minister reiterating the resolve to construct a grand Sri Ram Temple in Ayodhya in his interview is in tune with the resolution passed by BJP at Palampur in 1989,” said RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale on Twitter.
Hosabale said the BJP’s election manifesto in 2014 had promised to explore all possibilities within the Constitution’s framework to facilitate the construction of the temple. “The people of Bharat have reposed complete confidence and gave BJP the full mandate,” he said. “The people of Bharat expect this government to fulfil the same promise during this tenure.”
National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned Modi’s remark on the triple talaq matter. “Triple talaq is a matter of gender equality; Sabarimala is about tradition,” Modi had said.
Responding to this, Abdullah said: “Subtext - one is a Muslim issue [and] the other isn’t that’s why I am able to tie myself in knots explaining the contradiction of my government’s response.”
“Will no one hold PM Modi to account for the mess that J&K has become since 2014 or does the rest of the country really not care enough for this to be a legitimate question?” he asked.