Prime Minister on poll mode
Even though the general elections are about a year and a half away, the BJP top brass has raised the pitch of political discourse. In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, BJP president Amit Shah singled out the Congress for its Pakoda jibe and went on to castigate it for terming the GST as 'Gabbar Singh Tax'. He also lavishly praised the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government for all the new schemes it has launched for the benefit of the people. However, on Wednesday, while replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address in the Lok Sabha's Budget Session, the prime minister launched a fierce and emphatic attack on the Congress. The range of topics on which he cornered the Congress, the tone of his oration and the list of achievements of his government that he enumerated in the Lok Sabha, clearly suggest that the BJP is in a full-throttle election mode. As many of the states where the BJP is in power are going to polls this year, ahead of the general elections next year, the party's chief orators have well taken up the task to communicate with the people on a never-before scale. Starting from the Independence, the prime minister in his 90-minute speech attacked the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for dividing the Congress. Had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the prime minister, the entire Kashmir would have been a part of India, he said. Following the Prime Minister's reply, the motion which started on Tuesday is likely to be adopted by the Lok Sabha, where the ruling NDA has a comfortable majority. The BJP had issued a whip and asked its party members to be present in the House on Wednesday and Thursday. The topics that the prime minister touched upon in his speech were aimed at demolishing the high moral ground that the Congress takes because of its long rule over the country. Talking about the high levels of non-performing assets (NPA), the prime minister said that the actual NPA can be many times more than official figures suggest. He squarely blamed the Congress regimes for allowing bad loans leading to astronomical levels of NPA and the banks' inability to fund cost-intensive projects. Talking about his fight against corruption, he said those who looted the country must now pay the price for it. On its part, the NDA government at the Centre has ensured that the middlemen are removed and the benefits meant for the people reach them directly, he said. The Indian middle class wants a higher degree of ease of living and their aspirations are simple: good education, affordable housing and good infrastructure, he said, adding that his government is committed to meeting the aspirations of the middle class. Prime Minister Modi also elaborated on all the plans that his government has launched. He said over 10 crore people have availed loans under the Mudra scheme to set up their businesses. He also said the aspirations of the middle-class youth is always the top priority of his government. "Employment is increasing but you have closed your eyes as you are busy singing your songs," the prime minister said. He also quoted some lines from former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's poem, to ask the Congress to change its outlook: 'chhote Mann se koi bada nahi hota aur toote mann se koi khada nahi hota'. The prime minister recalled how he invited the SAARC heads of states to his oath-taking ceremony in 2014, an initiative that was emulated by inviting 10 heads of states from ASEAN to the Indian Republic Day celebrations on January 26, earlier this year. He said, because of his dynamic foreign policy initiative, the Indian passport is being taken seriously across the world. He also mentioned that his government has taken up development works in the Northeastern region on a priority basis. He took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi's elevation as the Congress president, calling the process a coronation much along the lines of Mughal era emperors, where a dynastic rule was the order. He said the Congress cannot teach democratic principles to the nation as it does not follow them even within its party. Reacting to the prime minister's speech, former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said there is nothing new in his speech and he should have talked about the jobs that his government has created. Media reports suggest that the Congress leaders who were making noises during the first half of the prime minister's speech became silent in the second half and Congress president Rahul Gandhi appeared stunned and speechless. Clearly, he needs to meet Prime Minister Modi's extraordinary oratory with dignity and hard work.