New Delhi: Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview on New Year’s day to news agency ANI as full of rhetoric, the Congress on Tuesday asserted that the countdown for his exit has begun.
Calling it a "fixed interview", the Congress said there was no mention of ground realities or any concern for promises made by him to the people.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the prime minister should have spoken about his 10 big promises — 15 lakh in every bank account, bringing back 80 lakh crore black money, 2 crore jobs per year, cost and 50 per cent profit for farmers, GST, demonetisation "scam", national security, corruption and "scams" such as Rafale, and cleaning of Ganga.
"The people are with the opposition and the 'gathbandhan of thugs' should start its countdown as only 99 days are left," he said on the prime minister's claim that the 2019 elections are going to be a fight between the people and the 'mahagathbandhan'.
"The monologue interview of Modi ji turned out to be much ado about nothing. It was about I, me, mine, myself...Modiji, your 'I's and lies' have destroyed the social fabric and the economy of the country, trampling upon Constitutional institutions as also rights of individuals," Surjewala said at a press conference.
In the interview broadcast by various television channels, Modi talked about a host of issues, including the surgical strikes, the Ram temple's construction and personal attacks on him by the Congress.
Modi also accused the Congress leadership of politicising and delaying the legal process in clearance of the Ram temple's construction.
On the Ram temple issue, Surjewala said the matter is pending before the Supreme Court and whatever decision comes, should be adhered to and accepted by all.
"There is no need for an ordinance therafter, as prime minister is trying to deviate. Which constituency is he trying to please. He has already rejected his own party and the RSS' demand.
"We are happy that the prime minister is today stating that the Supreme Court will decide the issue and is trying to confuse and sidestep the issue by saying that the ordinance will come thereafter. There is no need for an ordinance, Mr prime minister, that is the law of the land once they decide the issue," he said.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the people of the country cannot be "fooled" through a "fixed interview" and dared him to face Parliament and a press conference.
Sharma also attacked the prime minister over his claims on surgical strikes, saying "it is a national shame that the prime minister seeks to politicise the surgical strike and divide the country."
"PM Modi did not spare our people of his penchant for false promises, hollow claims and propaganda even on the New Year day. The habitual peddler of untruths and lies has signalled a nasty narrative for the 2019 election campaign.
"People cannot be fooled through a fixed interview. Have the courage to face us in Parliament or address a press conference. Having betrayed the people, do not beg Lord Ram to save you. He did not ask you to lie in the first place," Sharma tweeted.
He said the country is proud of its armed forces, their courage and sacrifice and they belong to and defend India, and do not belong to any political party.
Surjewala alleged that corruption rules the roost, be it in the lives of the common man or in defence deals and cited the example of the Rafale deal.
On Prime Minister Modi's surgical strikes remarks, Surjewala said the BJP accused the Congress of doing politics over surgical strikes, but both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had praised the armed forces for it.
But the BJP discredited the surgical strikes of ther past and "politicised" the bravery of the army, he alleged.
Surjewala said, "Bereft of ground reality, 'jumlas' (rhetoric) galore, Modiji's interview looks like a parody."
The Congress leader said that "with defeat writ large on the face as also in the arrogant words of 'I, Me, Mine, Myself', the first interview of Modi has put the entire future in perspective that now there are 99 days left for Modi ji for people to say 'bye, bye' to him".
He said the prime minister had become so helpless that he was not even making it clear from where he will contest the Lok Sabha polls and whether at all he will contest.
"This shows a defeatist prime minister," he said.(With PTI inputs)