New Delhi: In his speech at the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the Jharkhand lynching case where 22-year-old Tabriz Ansari lost his life after being beaten by a mob that forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
While replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address, Modi spoke in a style not very different from the register he used in campaign speeches in the run up to and during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
His hour-long address covered several topics before touching upon the Jharkhand lynching. Among them were jabs at the opposition’s anger with him, a wish for Arun Jaitley to return to the parliament and yet another mention of the sweeping mandate secured by the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Modi also tore into the opposition’s alleged claim that democracy had lost when the election was lost and called it one of the biggest insults to have been directed at the nation. “Arrogance has a limit,” he said, before proceeding to highlight the fact that the Congress had not won any seat in 17 states.
“Going by the Congress party’s arguments, I wonder whether Wayanad, Rae Bareli, Berhampore and Thiruvananthapuram seats too reflect the defeat of the country,” he said. The seats mentioned by Modi are ones where Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Adhir Chowdhury and Shashi Tharoor have won from.
Modi then spoke in defence of the ‘one nation, one election’ pitch made by his government, highlighted the work done by him under the Ujjwala Yojana, criticised those who have been critical of EVMs and said that the acceleration of aspiration that has taken place is no lie.
Finally, at the 41-minute mark, Modi turned the page of his script and paused, noting that he wanted to mention a “few other things”.
The lynching in Jharkhand has pained me. It has saddened others too.
But, some people in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a state.
None of us have the right to insult the state of Jharkhand: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) June 26, 2019
He began not with the news of the lynching itself, but the alleged fact that people have been saying that “Jharkhand has become the hub of mob lynching and mob violence”.
“Respected Speaker, everyone here feels sad that a youth was killed. I too feel sad. And we should, too. Those who are responsible should receive the strictest of strict punishments,” he said.
Then, after a dramatic pause, Modi continued, “But…is it appropriate to place the blame on the whole of Jharkhand state? If we do so, we will not have people who do good work there anymore. Those who have done wrong, isolate them. Apply the due course of law to them. But we cannot place everyone on the stand for the sake of politics.”
“We do not have the right to insult the whole of Jharkhand. They are also our citizens,” he added.
For any crime, Modi ventured, constitutional law is paramount. He also spoke about how the dialogue on “good terrorism and bad terrorism, my terrorism and your terrorism” has been at the root of all problems.
He then went on to say that hate crimes “be they in Jharkhand, be they in West Bengal, be they in Kerala” should be dealt with similarly. “Only then can we keep hatred at bay,” he said to applause.
Ansari, who was attacked by a mob who reportedly suspected that he was a thief on June 18, passed away on Saturday while in judicial custody. In a video of the attack, which took place in Dhatkidih village of Jharkhand’s Seraikela Kharsawan district, the mob can be heard forcing Ansari to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. He can be seen pleading with the mob to stop.
In the three minutes he spent on the issue, Modi did not mention communalism. Nor did he dwell on the youth who was killed, his age or his religious background.
By the 44th minute, he had moved on to how his government had been bolstered by the sabka vishwas which the people of the nation had apparently added to its ethos of “sabka saath, sabka vikas”.
Joking that ‘Azad saab’ (Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad) is needlessly angry at things, Modi then bizarrely said he would quote Ghalib because, “Azad saab likes these things.” He devoted the rest of the speech to asking the Congress to hold its working committee meeting at Sardar Patel’s statue, and lauding the success of the Ayushman Bharat scheme and the alleged full focus that his government has given to the northeast with no electoral dividends in mind.