Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotional farewell speech for Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad an “artfully crafted performance”, reported PTI. Modi bid a teary-eyed farewell to Azad on Tuesday in the Upper House.
“It [Modi’s farewell speech] was a very artfully crafted performance,” Tharoor said, referring to the farmer leader who broke into tears on January 28 while speaking about the farmers’ protests. “It was partly in response to [Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh] Tikait’s tears that he decided he also has tears.”
Tharoor made the remarks at an event related to former Vice President Hamid Ansari’s book By Many a Happy Accident: Recollections of a Life.
On Tuesday in the Rajya Sabha, the prime minister referred to Azad as a friend, and teared up while reminiscing the Congress leader’s efforts during a 2007 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in which some tourists from Gujarat were killed. Modi was then the chief minister of Gujarat, and Azad was the chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Azad ji was the first person to call me,” Modi had said in a choked voice. “During that call he could not stop crying. He [Azad] went to the airport when the bodies were sent back.”
However, Opposition leaders criticised the prime minister for not showing sensitivity while handling the farmers’ protest. On the same day, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy in the Lok Sabha criticised Modi, asking: “Farmers have been on an agitation. Why can’t the prime minister withdraw the bill and not stand on ego? I heard prime minister cried in the other House. Why can’t he shed some tears for farmers?”
Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary said that had Modi shed some tears on the deaths of farmers during their protests, the current situation would not have occurred.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for over two months, seeking the withdrawal of agricultural laws passed in September. The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors have been arrested in connection with the violence and several are missing.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The laws are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.