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Modi Rakes Up Rajiv Gandhi's 1982 'Insult' Against Dalit Andhra CM; Blames Congress for Partition, Kashmir Mess

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If Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have been the first Prime Minister of the country, a part of our Kashmir would not have been occupied by Pakistan, said PM Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha.

New Delhi: India wouldn’t have lost a chunk of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been chosen as India’s first Prime Minister, PM Narendra Modi said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Speaking amid loud protests from Congress, Modi intervened in the debate on President's address to Parliament. The political messaging was, however, aimed at two southern states — Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Karnataka goes to polls in April this year, and Andhra Pradesh, along with Telangana, will vote next year.

Quoting Urdu poet Bashir Badr, Modi said, “Jee bohot chahta hai sach bolein, kya karein hausla nahi hota.” This was in response to yet another Bashir Badr couplet used by Karnataka Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge a day earlier – “Dushmani jam kar karo lekin ye gunjaish rahe, jab kabhi hum dost ho jaaen to sharminda na hon

Taking a jibe at Kharge, PM said the Congress leader’s speech in Parliament could very well be his farewell speech. The barbs were aimed as much at Kharge as they were for the incumbent Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah.

Modi went on to attack Kharge, claiming that it wasn’t clear through his speech whether he was addressing the Treasury Bench, the people of Karnataka or his own party leaders.

“Karnataka was the birthplace of democracy. The Anubhava Mantapa movement of 12th Century were the first baby steps towards democracy that were taken in Karnataka. It is a tradition that the Congress has repeatedly trampled upon,” Modi said.

“India did not get democracy due to Pandit Nehru, as Congress wants us to believe. Please look at our rich history. There are many examples of rich democratic traditions that date back centuries ago. Democracy is integral to this nation and is in our culture,” Modi said.

Alluding to Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyyar’s infamous comments comparing presidential elections within Congress to Mughals’ aristocratic rule, Modi said, “Will Congress teach us democracy? The party whose own ruler justified the aristocracy of Mughals…”

He also talked about alleged corruption under the Congress rule. “Since (Mallikarjun) Kharge ji spoke about Railways and Karnataka, let me tell the truth about the Bidar-Kalburgi rail line. The project was approved by the Vajpayee government and from 2004 till 2013 nothing was done. It is when a government under BS Yeddyurappa gave approvals that work could begin.”

Modi also trained his guns on Congress’ history in Andhra Pradesh.

He recounted the infamous encounter between the then general secretary of Congress Rajiv Gandhi and then AP chief minister Tantuguri Anjaiah. In 1982, Gandhi had reportedly visited the state’s Begumpet airport on a private visit, when he had shouted at Anjaiah. “Your Prime Minister did not even respect the wishes of a Dalit Chief Minister,” Modi said in his speech.

He went on to attack the Congress’ decision to split Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “You hurt the sentiments of the people of Andhra Pradesh. Just for short-term electoral gains, you decided to hurriedly split a state in two. This is the crux of Congress’ politics — ruling by division.”

Elaborating his point further, Modi said that Congress governments at the Centre had invoked and abused Article 356 over 90 times to quash state governments in several states, including states like Karnataka.

He also alleged that the Congress had repeatedly humiliated its own member from Karnataka — Neelam Sanjiva Reddy. “A proud son of Andhra Pradesh…. They humiliated him when the moment came to nominate a person for the chair of India’s President,” Modi said.

first published:February 07, 2018, 13:51 IST