New Delhi: The Congress in Rajya Sabha today accused the BJP-led government of being “intolerant and full of arrogance” and painting a “rosy” picture even when the ground realities only told a story of tall promises and failures.
Participating in a resumed debate on the motion of thanks for the President’s address, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said even BJP allies like the Shiv Sena, Telugu Desam or the Shiromani Akali Dal also do not seem to agree with the “rosy projections” being painted.
The Rajya Sabha did away with the Question Hour to take up the debate on the motion of thanks.
Due to such a ground situation, the BJP is not keen on holding the Lok Sabha bypolls due in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that the BJP would fall below the majority mark if it loses these bye-elections.
Patel also claimed that a “feeling of insecurity” was prevailing across the country, whether it is in the social fabric, economic matters, national security, judiciary or independent constitutional institutions. There is no area which has escaped the feeling of insecurity, he said.
“Farmers, labourers and others – all are worried. The BJP will be defeated in 2019,” he said, claiming even the Union Budget, on which the government had pinned its hopes, has “turned out to be a flop”.
Referring to statements by BJP allies, Patel said the Shiv Sena had accused its saffron ally of lying, while the TDP has claimed it has reneged on its promises. Even Akali Dal has said that getting 272 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 will be a difficult task.
Taking a jibe at the BJP leadership, he said the situation was such that “something will have to be done”.
Rebutting BJP chief Amit Shah’s comments that the NDA government was filling the space left by the erstwhile UPA regime, Patel said in 2004, when the Vajpayee government left office, annual per capita income was Rs 24,000. In 2014, when the Manmohan Singh-led government ended its term, per capita income had risen to Rs 70,000, he said.
In contrast, the debt during the NDA rule has risen, he said, adding that it was “clear who is digging potholes”.
The leaders of the BJP only know how to try to defame the Congress and the Gandhi family, Patel, a close aide of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, said.
Attacking the government on the issue of corruption, he asked why the Centre had reduced the budget for the RTI, not filled key vacancies and neither appointed a Lokpal.
Patel said it was said that the BJP had formed governments in states like Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Manipur after the Modi government came to power at the Centre. In Manipur and Goa, Congress was the single largest party but the BJP formed the goverment.
“With whose support and how?…
Now is this ethical, is this morality,” he asked.
Patel said that except one case, in all Lok Sabha bypolls held after the present government assumed office, it was the Congress or its allies who emerged victorious.
The BJP tally has come down from 282 to 273, while the Congress’s tally has risen after 2014, he said.
Reciting an Urdu couplet, the Congress leader said it was easy to reach the top using propaganda, but the real challenge was to remain at the top.
Patel claimed that those who talk of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state polls, could not even hold the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat polls together as the prime minister had to launch a Ro-Ro ferry service, which has now closed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Gujarat several times, flew on a sea plane, made references to Pakistan, but despite that, the BJP shrunk to double digits winning only 99 seats. The Congress, on the other hand, has emerged with more seats than the BJP in the rural areas.
“In Gujarat, we won despite losing, while you lost even after winning… The people know who has won,” Patel said.
Referring to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he took a dig at the BJP saying that while the saffron party may use his name for poll gains, they had a “special affection” for the surname which he and Hardik Patel also shared.
Patel also claimed that water was wrongly diverted from Gujarat water bodies earlier, ignoring the requirements of the farmers of the state who are suffering now.
The veteran Congress leader said one of the “supposedly better performing ministers” Nitin Gadkari had announced about multi-nation road projects but nothing moved on the ground.
He said it was claimed that the present government was building over 20 km of roads every day, much more than the previous regime. However, if the data related to roads widened or repaired are separeted, the figure would come down to 6 or 7 km, he said.
“Tall claims are made for marketing, but nothing is done for implementation,” Patel said.
He recited a poem by Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar to suggest that it was futile even for authoritarian regimes to impose their will on everyone and asserted that the leaders of Congress are not scared of IT, ED or CBI raids.
DMK member RS Bharati said that Tamil Nadu was neglected in the budget. He also raised issue of water for farmers. He also raised another issue related to a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly on the NEET exam.