Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday criticised Rahul Gandhi while delivering his final speech in the Lok Sabha ahead of the 2019 General Elections later this summer. Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die – with no appointed date for resumption – on Wednesday, the last day of the Budget Session.
Taking a dig at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s 2016 statement that there would be an “earthquake” if he was allowed to speak in Parliament, the prime minister said there has been no quake in the last five years. “Big personalities tried to fly aircraft,” he added, referring to the corruption allegations against the BJP-led government in the Rafale defence deal. “The power of democracy is such that no aircraft could bring down this government.”
The Comptroller and Auditor General had on Wednesday tabled a report in the Rajya Sabha on capital acquisitions by the Indian Air Force, which included details about the Rafale aircraft deal. The report said that the National Democratic Alliance’s deal for 36 jets was 2.8% cheaper than the agreement the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance had made for 126 jets.
The Congress and other Opposition leaders have repeatedly accused the Centre of irregularities in the agreement signed by the government. The government has denied them and has said this will be a non-issue in the upcoming elections.
Modi also took a potshot on the Congress president for hugging him in Parliament. In July, Gandhi ended a fiery speech, which had been interrupted by the ruling party, with a declaration that he harboured no hate for the BJP and then proceeded to walk to the other side of Parliament and gave a hug to Modi, even though the latter remained seated. Modi was seemingly startled before offering Gandhi a handshake. As Gandhi returned to his seat, he was caught smiling broadly and winking at a colleague.
This was a new thing that he witnessed as a first-time member of Parliament, Modi said, adding that he understood the difference between “gale milna and gale padna”, or a hug and a forced hug.
The prime minister also pitched for a majority government and said India’s image had bettered globally because his government enjoyed a majority. “India suffered globally for long due to fractured mandates, it is now taken seriously because of the majority government,” he said.
Modi also praised Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for their work. “We will be proud of this 16th Lok Sabha, as it saw the highest number of women members elected to the House,” he adds. Forty-four first-time women MPs were elected to the Lok Sabha this year. “We have two women ministers and also a woman Speaker,” he added, referring to Mahajan, Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Eight of 17 sessions in the 16th Lok Sabha had more than 100% productivity, he claimed, adding there was 85% of overall productivity. As many as 203 out of 219 bills were passed in this House, he added. The prime minister congratulated the House for passing several laws, including the ones against black money and money laundering, the GST Bill, the Aadhaar Bill, the 10% reservation bill and extending maternity leaves.
“Every member of the House – both ruling and Opposition – should take pride in the work done during the 16th Lok Sabha,” he said. “The House has contributed a lot in boosting the self-confidence of the nation.”
India’s economy is “a matter of pride”, he said. “Every member of the House contributed for its productivity. The country is knocking on the door to becoming a $5-trillion economy,” he said.
Modi concluded his speech with special thanks to Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had praised the prime minister’s work and wished him a second term.