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With Modi Govt Privatising National Assets, Opposition Says 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' is Mere Rhetoric

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets officers as he arrives to attend Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort in Delhi, on August 15, 2020. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets officers as he arrives to attend Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort in Delhi, on August 15, 2020. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that it was important to question the government on whether it believes in the mandate of the people and if there is freedom to speak freely in the country.

Opposition parties on Saturday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his call for 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' and said that at a time when the government was privatising national assets, a self-reliant India was mere "rhetoric".

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that it was important to question the government on whether it believes in the mandate of the people and if there is freedom to speak freely in the country.

"Does our government believe in democracy? Does our government believe in public opinion? Do we have the freedom to speak, think, travel, to wear what we like, to earn our livelihood or has that been curbed," Surjewala said.

He said that the foundation of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India) was laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and other freedom fighters.

"But a government which is selling public sector undertakings, handing over railways and airports to private players and attacking everything from LIC to FCI, will that government be able to keep the freedom of this country safe? It is the duty of the government and every citizen to keep the freedom of the country safe," he added.

The Left parties alleged that the PM's speech was full of rhetoric and said that his New India was subservient to corporates and not self reliant.

Urging the people to unite against the government's move to privatise India's assets, the Left parties said that only a people's movement can fight the present regime.

"The New India that the PM spoke about in his speech at Red Fort is a negation of that India which was established by our Constitution. This India is not self reliant but subservient to foreign corporates.

"A people's movement is the only way to reverse the multi pronged attacks on our Constitution by this government," said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury at a webinar organised by the party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on the occasion of India's 74th Independence Day from the ramparts of the Red Fort, and asked citizens to prepare themselves for a self-reliant India.

D Raja, the general secretary of the CPI, alleged that unlike former PMs who are remembered for their development agendas, Modi will be remembered as the prime minister who served the purpose of corporates.

"His speech today was complete rhetoric. During his speech he repeatedly said Aatmanirbhar Bharat which is an irony given the fact that our entire economy has been handed over to private players. Be it the defence sector, railways, atomic energy or even AI and more are being given for privatisation," he said.

Talking to reporters after Modi's address, Congress' chief spokesperson Surjewala also said that all Indians should ask the government this Independence Day what it was doing to protect the country and push China back.

In his speech, the prime minister said India's soldiers had given a fitting reply to those who had challenged the country's sovereignty, from "LoC to LAC". Modi, who did not name China, added that the whole country is united in protecting the sovereignty of the nation.

"Each and every Congress worker and all 130 crore Indians are proud of our armed forces and have full faith in them. We salute the armed forces for giving China an apt reply every time there has been an attack. But what about those who are sitting in power? Why are they scared of mentioning China's name," Surjewala asked.

"At a time when China has entered Indian territory, every Indian needs to ask the government what it is doing to push China back and protect the country. On this Independence Day they should ask this. That is the true sense of democracy," the Congress leader added.