New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his maiden speech in Rajya Sabha after returning to power at the Centre, made a strong pitch for electoral reforms, backed use of electronic voting machines and called upon non-treasury benches to oppose and not obstruct legislative business in the Upper house, where ruling party lacks majority.
On Wednesday, he flayed Congress leadership for raising doubts over the efficacy of EVMs. "We brought the party from nothing to this stage. We lost elections but we never blamed circumstances. When there is no self-confidence, people start looking for excuses. There was no soul searching. This is the test of leadership. And now there is no point in lowering morale of cadres. Prep up and let’s be prepared for the next fight," Modi said.
The statements could be looked in the context of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's statements made earlier this month in a rally she addressed in Raebareli, in which she said, "There is no smoke without fire (in context of alleged tampering of EVMs)."
Her views were echoed by senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily, who in a recent interview had said, "Everybody is suspecting EVM. This is a very serious matter and there is serious doubt on EVM," and had favoured return to ballot voting and called for a referendum on the issue.
He also highlighted a statement that was made by Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri on Thursday said while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won polls, "India has lost."
"Did India lost in Wayanad [from where Rahul Gandhi was elected MP] or in Raebareli [from where Sonia Gandhi has been elected]? Congress' loss means India's loss? Does this mean Congress is India? There are limits to hubris. You have insulted the voters of the country, it pains me a lot, this was utterly shameful. Those who have lost must not be in a position to salute the voters but I will," Modi said. He added that Congress, which had governed the country for over five decades, could neither digest victory nor, since 2014, was it able to accept loss.
The law to use EVMs was framed in Parliament when Congress was in power, Modi added. "Since then 113 assembly elections and 4 Lok Sabha elections have been conducted in the country using EVMs. Different people and parties have come to power at various stages. To allay all doubts Election Commission even held a hackathon but nobody then came to challenge them," he said.
Modi also said that reforms in electoral practices were welcome and should be continuously made, as an example of which he cited his proposal of 'One Nation One Election'. "To out-rightly reject the idea of one country one elections is not proper. At least come and discuss it. If there were concerns about the ruling party at the centre benefiting most from simultaneous polls, people in Odisha proved them wrong when they showed maturity while voting for BJD in assembly elections and for BJP in Lok Sabha."
He further added that those who have obstructed working of Rajya Sabha have been punished by the country. "Voter is noticing these things. There is a lesson to be learnt. Don’t commit the sin of pushing nation towards pessimism." This is a new India Modi said, "This is a country of 1.4 billion people why shouldn't we dream big? There are some who still long for an 'Old India' where the navy is put in service of a family picnic, where cabinet decision are torn in public, where everywhere there is corruption, where leaders go to support tukde tukde gang...Today’s common man lives with aspirations. There has been an acceleration of aspirations."
He further added that those who burnt alive Sikhs, during the anti-Sikh pogroms of '84, were still in party and held constitutional posts.