Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said the Congress should be thanked for protecting democracy in the country because of which Narendra Modi, coming from a poor family, could become the Prime Minister of India.
Participating in the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address, Kharge said the Congress had protected democracy for 70 years and slammed the BJP for saying repeatedly that the Congress did not do anything for years.
During the course of Kharge’s around one hour-40 minutes long speech, members from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sparred with the Congress members several times, as Kharge launched an attack on the government.
The long speech also forced Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to ask him to conclude repeatedly, with one of the ruling party members even quoting a rule urging the Speaker to force him to stop the address.
Kharge also took on the government over demonetisation, stating that the Prime Minister should apologise for the deaths that happened due to banning Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
“I think you brought Green Revolution. And White Revolution in your Gujarat also came in your time... (Verghese) Kurien was also born in these times -- everything happened in the last two and half years,” Kharge said sarcastically.
“We brought Green Revolution to feed the people, we brought White Revolution... You question what happened in 70 years, if nothing had been done, you would not have been alive, there would not have been democracy, the Constitution would not have been protected,” he said.
“We protected the Constitution. If Modi came from a poor family and became the Prime Minister, the credit goes to the Congress, which kept democracy alive,” Kharge added.
Prime Minister Modi was present in the Lok Sabha at the time Kharge made the remarks.
As members from treasury benches pointed at the Emergency, the Congress leader said: “At that time there was declared Emergency, today there is undeclared Emergency.”
“In the name of ‘Sanatan Dharma’, you want people to be divided,” he added.
Talking about demonetisation, the Congress leader said: “So many people died, at least the Prime Minister should have apologised to the people. You can apologise even now,” he said.
Kharge said government should inform the nation how much black money was recovered post demonetisation, and added: “PM knew elections were coming, he wanted people to forget the promised Rs 15 lakh.”
He also alleged that people were selectively informed about demonetisation.
Quoting finance minister Arun Jaitley, who said not a single riot or protest against demonetisation had taken place, Kharge said: “Did you want a riot to happen? If there was no agitation it does not mean your step was supported. People of this country are so patient; we were ruled by outsiders for 1,000 years,” he said.
As a member from the treasury benches quipped that Kharge was still “being ruled by outsiders”, he said: “I am a slave. You were slave to the British, I was a slave to you.”
To accusations by the government over “politicising” the September 29 cross-border surgical strike, the Congress leader said they did not question the army but the government.
“Surgical strike did not happen for the first time; it will keep happening as long as our enemies are there. You are not the custodians of patriotism. The whole nation is with the Army... We are questioning you,” he said.
The speech saw several angry exchanges between the treasury and opposition benches.
Members from the BJP and Congress got into a war of words in the Lok Sabha after Kharge claimed people from his party had laid down their lives for the nation, while none from the BJP had done so.
Kharge said leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, and former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had laid down their lives for the country.
Kharge said no one from the present ruling party died for the nation and used “unparliamentary” language.
Even as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would remove the comment from the records, it created an uproar in the treasury benches.
As ruling party members protested, Kharge said: “This is history, it is not unparliamentary.”
Instructing Kharge not to make such comments, Mahajan said: “You should not say something like this. Many people have laid down their lives for the nation.”
An angry Ananth Kumar of the BJP said Jana Sangh leaders like Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Deendayal Upadhyay also died for the country, and demanded that Kharge should apologise.
Launching a direct attack on the Prime Minister, Kharge said: “You are very smart in speaking and good at mouthing speeches. But speeches do not fill the stomach.”
He also quoted Abraham Lincoln and said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”