New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (August 10) broke his silence on the floor of the parliament about the ongoing violence in Manipur while replying to the no-confidence motion moved against his government.
However, in his speech that lasted around 2 hours 20 mins, Modi spoke about the violence hit-state for barely ten minutes in which he said that his government is working towards peace.
The remaining part of his extensive speech was devoted to attacking the Congress, previous UPA governments, the opposition INDIA alliance and the developmental initiatives brought to the North East in the nine years of the Modi government.
This occurred despite the opposition saying that the goal of the no-confidence motion was to get the prime minister to address the ongoing violence in Manipur inside parliament.
Modi’s speech saw high drama amid loud protests from the opposition, which staged a walkout after 1 hour and 40 minutes of the speech as there was no mention of Manipur.
Meanwhile, the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, was suspended for “misconduct”.
The no-confidence motion was ultimately defeated by a voice vote in the absence of the opposition MPs in the House.
Barely ten minutes on Manipur
While Prime Minister Modi began speaking at 5 pm, he first mentioned Manipur only at 6.42 pm as opposition MPs started walking out of the House.
“Yesterday, Amit bhai (Shah) said that an order came from the high court of Manipur, which saw a sequence of events that led to violence in the state. Many families lost their loved ones. Terrible crimes were committed against women and this is condemnable,” he said.
“To punish the perpetrators both central and state governments are trying their best. I want to assure all citizens that all our efforts are underway and peace will soon be restored. Manipur will move forward with new atma vishwas (self confidence) towards development soon.”
“I also want to tell the people of Manipur, to the women, daughters and sisters that the country is with you and this House is with you. Together we will confront this challenge and bring back peace. I want to tell Manipur that we are trying our best to ensure Manipur moves towards peace soon,” he said.
While the no confidence motion debate began on Tuesday (August 8), Modi only appeared in the House for the first time on Thursday afternoon – first, briefly during Chowdhury’s speech, and later, just before he was due to give his reply shortly before 5 pm.
Even in his brief comments on Manipur, Modi took aim at the opposition.
“If they had agreed to Shah’s requests, we could have had a good discussion. Shah gave a detailed statement yesterday and the country was shocked by the lies spread by the opposition about the situation in Manipur,” he said.
“We had said come and discuss Manipur, the home minister even wrote a letter. But they had no intention or courage..”
Modi said that Shah’s speech on Wednesday continued for over two hours and was a detailed reply on Manipur “without any politics” that took into account “the concerns of the citizens and the government”.
“The purpose [of the speech] was also to make the people aware and send a message of peace,” said Modi.
Modi also said that as Shah explained the day before, Manipur’s problems have not developed over the last few years.
“Manipur’s problems are being presented as if these problems have started recently. As Shah explained extensively yesterday – the genesis of problems in the Northeast is Congress. It is not the people of the North East but the Congress’s politics that is responsible for this (situation),” he said.
The prime minister also said that the previous Congress governments did little for the Northeast.
“You (Congress) have never tried to understand the emotions of the Northeast,” he said.
“I have visited (Northeast) 50 times. This is not just data, this is dedication towards Northeast.”
“Who’s government was there in Manipur when Mahatma Gandhi’s picture was not allowed in government offices, whose government was there in Manipur when the decision to not allow the national anthem in schools was taken?”
Accusing the opposition of “selective” outrage, Modi said, “They cannot think beyond politics.”
When the opposition staged a walkout at around 6.40 pm (about an hour and 40 minutes into Modi’s speech), the prime minister accused them of not being ready to listen to him.
“Those who don’t believe in democracy are ready to speak but not listen. If you speak the truth they leave. They throw garbage and run away, they spread lies and run away. The country has no hopes from them,” he said.
‘The Congress divided India into three’
Hitting out at Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, who on Wednesday accused Modi of “murdering Bharat Mata in Manipur”, Modi said that his words had hurt every Indian.
“(Those) words on Bharat Mata have hurt every Indian,” he said.
“I don’t know what has happened…without power some people cannot live. What kind of a language is this?
“These people talk about murdering the constitution. Have they forgotten August 14?” he asked, referring to India’s partition.
“We are still living with that pain. The same people who divided Ma Bharat into three pieces, when they had to make our country independent?”
Congress likes dynasty politics
Modi said that the Congress has always favoured dynastic politics.
“We have always opposed dynastic politics but the Congress likes parivarvaad, durbaarbaad,” he said.
Modi said that because of dynastic politics, the rights of leaders like B.R. Ambedkar, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh were taken away.
Taking aim at Gandhi’s speech on Wednesday, where he said that Lanka was not set ablaze by Hanuman but by his arrogance, Modi agreed that that was true.
“This is true, that is why the people of this country have behaved like Ram and ended that arrogance. From 400 seats they are now down to 40,” he said.
“The truth is the people of this country have given full majority to this government twice. But their problem is – how can a gareeb ka beta (son of a poor man) sit here. You thought this seat was your dynastic right.”
“In the end they are naamdar (dynast) and we are kaamdar (those known by their work),” he said.
‘Changing name to INDIA won’t change your fortunes’
Hitting out at the opposition INDIA bloc, Modi said that changing their name from UPA to INDIA will not change their fortunes.
“They feel that by changing their alliance’s name to INDIA they will rule the country. But this is a ghamandiya (arrogant) alliance and I want to tell them that by changing your name you cannot change your fortunes,” he said.
He said that the name INDIA was also decided by taking the NDA’s help and [that it] defined corruption.
“In order to keep themselves alive they had to take the NDA’s help in naming their alliance. But their arrogance does not leave them, so they had to add to I’s,” he said.
“The first I (in INDIA) stands for the arrogance of 25 parties and the other I for one family’s arrogance. They stole NDA from NDA and divided INDIA with I dot N dot D dot I dot A,” he said.
India will become the third largest economy in the world by next no-confidence motion
Modi said that like he had promised in 2018, during the previous no-confidence motion that was moved against his government, that another motion will come in 2023, a third motion will come in 2028.
“I had promised in 2018 that they will bring a no-confidence motion again in 2023 and they have done so,” he said.
“Under the Congress, the Indian economy was at the 10th, 11th and 12th spot in the world. After 2014 it is now among the top five economies in the world. When you bring the next no-confidence motion in 2028 India will be the third largest economy in the world,” he said.
Modi also listed his government’s achievements in the last nine years.
“WHO said the Swachh Bharat Mission saved the lives of 3 lakh people. UNICEF said that the poor are saving Rs 50,000 every year because of this [mission]. But the Congress and other Opposition parties don’t believe it. What the world sees, these people refuse to acknowledge,” he said.
Modi also thanked the opposition for moving the no-confidence motion, so he could give a detailed list of his government’s work to the people of the country.
‘PM absolved himself of all responsibility’
The opposition that staged a walkout after an hour and 40 minutes said that they took the step as Modi was giving a political speech and not talking about Manipur.
Speaking to The Wire, deputy leader of the Congress in the house, Gaurav Gogoi, who had moved the motion last month, said that the INDIA bloc decided to walk out because the prime minister absolved himself of all responsibility.
“The prime minister absolved his government – at the centre and the state – of all failures in Manipur and did not take any responsibility for the violence and rapes in Manipur. It seems they want a divided Manipur and the nexus of the drug mafia with the chief minister (N. Biren Singh) will continue. He also avoided answers on key issues like unemployment and China and remarks made on Pulwama by former J&K governor Satyapal Malik. For all these reasons the INDIA alliance decided to stage a walkout.”
When asked about the prime minister’s focus on his government’s achievements instead of Manipur, Gogoi said that Modi had no answers.
“The prime minister did not have answers on the three questions I raised in Lok Sabha about why he didn’t go to Manipur, why he was silent for 80 days, and why he hasn’t sacked the chief minister. He only tried to overrule us by bureaucratic achievements of his government,” he said.
Leader of Congress suspended
Modi’s speech also saw Chowdhury’s suspension for “misconduct” after Union minister for parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi moved a motion against him.
Joshi moved a motion “that this House having taken the serious note of the gross, deliberate and repeated misconduct of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in utter disregard to the House and authority of Chair resolve that the matter of his misconduct be referred to Committee of Privileges of the House for further investigation and reported to the House, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury be suspended from the service of the House till the Committee submits its report.”
Earlier, during his speech, Chowdhury had criticised Modi’s silence on Manipur and compared the prime minister with Nirav Modi and said that when he saw that the fugitive businessman was in the Caribbean he felt relieved.
“I thought Nirav Modi has left India and gone far away but now I know Nirav Modi has not gone far away,” he said.
He also compared Modi to Dhritarashtra and said when Draupadi was disrobed Dhritarashtra “was blind”.
“There is no difference between Manipur and Hastinapur Dhritarashtra is still blind.”
His remarks were expunged after protests from the treasury benches who demanded an apology.
During the prime minister’s speech as well, Chowdhury led several interruptions demanding that he address Manipur.