In his address to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, 8 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack on the Congress party, slammed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru over the handling of Goa's liberation, and called out the alleged 'injustice' faced by late Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar's brother.
While replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Rajya Sabha, PM Modi also took a series of jibes at the Congress' remarks of 'what would have happened if the Congress wasn't around...', leading to the MPs, including Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, staging a walkout.
Here are the highlights of PM Modi's two-hour-long address:
'India's Democracy Wasn't Born in 1947, It Wasn't Congress' Favour'
Slamming 'family-oriented politics', PM Modi said, "India's democracy faces the biggest threat of family-based parties. The biggest loss any party faces due to this is good talent," Modi said.
"It was said in the House (by Mallikarjun Kharge) that the Congress laid the foundation of the nation and that the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) just hoisted a flag on it. This was not a light statement. It comes from the deep-rooted belief that India was born in 1947. This belief leads to a lot of problems. It is the consequence of this belief that those who worked for the country for 75 years even framed policies based on it. This democracy is not a favour done by the Congress. The ones who strangulated the democracy in 1975 should not speak of it," the PM said.
"The problem with the Congress is that they never thought beyond one dynasty," Modi said, adding that "being India's oldest party, the Congress should take this more seriously."
'Had Congress Not Been There...'
PM Modi said, "A remark was made in the House saying 'what would have happened if the Congress would not have been around.' It is a result of the thinking, 'India is Indira, Indira is India,'" he said.
PM Modi further said:
"This is what would have happened if the Congress would not have been around:
Democracy would have been free of family politics
India would have walked the path of 'swadeshi' instead of 'videshi' glasses
The blot of Emergency would not have been there
Corruption would not have become an institution in itself
Caste and territory discriminations would not have been so rampant
Sikhs would not have face genocide
Punjab would not have burnt in the fire of terrorism for years
Kashmiri pandits would not have had to leave Kashmir
Daughters would not have been "burnt in tandoors"
Common people would not have had to wait for basic facilities like electricity, roads, and toilets."
He claimed that Mahatma Gandhi had wanted the Congress to cease to exist.
'Congress Thinks Like 'Urban Naxals''
The prime minister went on to suggest that the party should change its name from "Indian National Congress to Federation of Congress."
"They are now objecting to 'Nation'. If the idea of 'Nation' is unconstitutional, then why is your party called Indian National Congress," Modi asked.
He slammed the Congress for accusing the Centre of rewriting history.
"We are accused of trying to change or rewrite history. This is because of the fact that the Congress now thinks like urban naxals and their psychology has become destructive. The urban naxals have taken over Congress' conscious. We are not changing history, we are just refreshing people's memories. We are just taking the history a few 100 years back as it should be. Some people's version of history is just one family, what do we do about that?" he said.
'Nehru was Arrogant Over Goa Liberation'
PM Modi also slammed former PM Jawaharlal Nehru's "arrogance" that led to a "15-year-delay in liberating Goa" only to safeguard Nehru's image of a "peace-loving global leader."
Quoting from Nehru's speech from the Red Fort on 15 August 1955, PM Modi said: "He had said in his address from the Red Fort this and I quote: 'Have no doubts that we will take any secret steps for Goa. There are no armed force around Goa. Some people within India want to make noise and compel us to send forces there. We will not send a force, we will resolve it peacefully and everybody must understand that.' This statement was against the people of Goa," he said.
PM Modi further said: "I further quote him (Nehru): 'The ones going there are welcome to do so. But it should be remembered that the ones calling themselves satygrahis should remember principles of satyagraha. Sending forces is not the way of satyagraha.'" Modi said this "arrogance" deprived Goa of liberation for many years.
'Lata Mangeshkar's Family, Kishore Kumar, Subjected to Injustices'
PM Modi slammed the Congress for alleged injustice against Lata Mangeshkar's brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
"Lata Mangeshkar's younger brother, Pandit Hridaynath Mangeshkar ji, a proud son of Goa, was fired from All India Radio (AIR). What was his fault? He had only recited a patriotic poem by Veer Savarkar on AIR once. Hridaynath ji had said in an interview that when he met Savarkar and told him that he wanted to present his poem, Savarkar ji had asked him, "Do you want to go to jail by reciting my poem?" But Hridaynath ji recited it and within eight days, he was fired from AIR. This is what their (Congress') concept of freedom of expression was," PM Modi said.
He further said, "Singer Kishore Kumar was shunted out for not bowing to Indira Gandhi during the emergency."
PM's Praises for India's COVID Fight, Schemes for Farmers
Praising India's fight against COVID-19, the prime minister lauded the frontline and healthcare workers and the vaccination drive while taking a jibe at the "politicisation of issues" by the Opposition during the pandemic.
"It was the willpower and discipline of the 130 crore people of the country, and the efforts of India are being appreciated across the world," Modi said.
The PM also said that India's youth had taken the country to the top three in terms of number of startups globally, despite the COVID pandemic.
"From COP-26 to G20 to social sector to aiding 150 countries across the globe during COVID, India has taken a leadership role and the world has appreciated our role," the prime minister said.
During COVID, infrastructure projects continued and were completed, and work on providing houses to the poor and needy went on, he claimed.
Meanwhile, the PM said that throughout the lockdowns, India's farmers were exempted.
"It was an important decision, as a result, our farmers had bumper productivity even during a pandemic," he said.
The prime minister went on to say that during COVID, the government focused on two sectors – MSME and farming.
"Bumper crop was produced. Farmers got maximum MSP through Direct Benefit Transfer. Farmers in Punjab for the first time got DBT in their accounts," he claimed.
He also said that farmers from Punjab never got the kind of "financial benefits" before as they got now.
Congress Stages Walkout
Reacting to PM Modi's speech, Congress MPs staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge told news agency ANI, "We've walked out of the PM Speech on Motion of Thanks because instead of speaking on President's Address, he accused Congress."
Earlier, several Opposition leaders had created a ruckus in the House as the prime minister took jibes at many for politicising important matters in the country.
Kharge interrupted the PM's address, leading to an exchange of words with him.
"Kharge ji, please don't do what Adhir Ranjan (Chowdhury) ji usually does. Jairam (Ramesh) ji has already placed people to create ruckus," Modi said.