Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked the Congress whether India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was communal for wanting to protect the minorities of Pakistan. The prime minister made the remarks in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the presidential address.
Referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act, Modi said Nehru, was in favour of protecting minorities from Pakistan. “I want to ask Congress, was Pandit Nehru communal?” the prime minister asked. “Did he want a Hindu Rashtra?”
The prime minister claimed that Nehru had in 1963 scolded his own minister of state for external affairs in Parliament, telling him that the government in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was mistreating the Hindu minority, the Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted. He said that Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and all other leaders of that generation wanted a law like the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The prime minister said that while the Congress treated Muslims as Muslims only, as a minority for their vote-bank politics, the BJP government considers them Indians.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11 last year, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 28 people have died so far in the protests, most of them in BJP-ruled states.
The prime minister took several potshots at the Opposition. “It is essential for Congress to keep repeating that the Constitution must be saved from the BJP,” he said. “This practice will make them realise their deeds. Did the Congress try to save the Constitution during the Emergency?”
Modi asked who had created the National Advisory Council during the term of the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government, which had a bigger role than the prime minister, ANI reported. He claimed that the National Advisory Council played a “remote control role” in the previous government.
“There are people in this House who have suffered due to political violence in West Bengal,” Modi said. “When they start speaking, it will make things uncomfortable for many associated with the Opposition.”
Modi also attacked the Congress for not providing justice to the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, which claimed over 3,000 lives in Delhi alone. The prime minister claimed that those who “love to be photographed with the tukde-tukde gang” are ironically opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Modi said that if the Centre had proceeded with the policies of the previous governments, then his administration would not have been been able to take several decisions on matters of national importance.
“If we worked as per the old ways then Ram Janmabhoomi matter would have remained unsolved,” the prime minister said. “Kartarpur Sahib corridor would not be a reality. There would be no India-Bangladesh land agreement. Article 370 would never have been history. Muslim women would have kept suffering due to triple talaq.”
The prime minister said that the country was no longer willing to wait for problems to remain unsolved. This was the reason the current administration’s aim was “speed and scale”, “determination and decisiveness” and “sensitivity and solutions”, Modi added.
Under the Modi-led administration, 37 crore people got bank accounts, the prime minister said, adding that 11 crore people got toilets in their houses, 13 crore people got gas connections and two crore people were able to get their own homes.
The prime minister said the North East had become a “growth engine” and lauded the work done in several sectors. “The Bodo Accord signed now is special because it has brought all stakeholders together and we are moving towards a more peaceful era,” he said.
On January 27, nine Bodo groups signed a pact with the Centre and the Assam government in New Delhi. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had then said the new accord was a “final and comprehensive solution” to the demand of the Bodos, while retaining the territorial integrity of Assam.
On President Ram Nath Kovind’s address, the prime minister said it highlighted the vision for a “New India”. He said it instilled a spirit of hope and presented a road map for taking the country forward. “The president of India has talked about agriculture and farmer welfare extensively,” he said. “The matter of higher MSP [minimum support price] was pending for decades. We had the honour of solving this long-standing demand.” He added that the agriculture budget had increased five times during his government’s tenure.