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Congress terms PM Modi’s I-Day speech hollow, urges him to accept Rahul’s debate challenge

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accept Rahul Gandhi’s challenge on a debate over corruption, mob lynching and women insecurity.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2018 23:05 IST
HT Correspondent
Congress,Narendra Modi,Independence Day
Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the flag hoisting ceremony at AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI)

The Congress on Wednesday dismissed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech as “hollow,” and urged him to accept Rahul Gandhi’s challenge for a debate on corruption, mob lynchings and Chinese incursions.

“People are now tired of the fake achhe din (good days) the BJP promised and are waiting for sacche din (days of truth) when Modi departs as Prime Minister...,” Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters after a flag hoisting ceremony at the party’s headquarters.

He said Modi “did not utter a single word” that would have been “meaningful” to ordinary people.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi earlier tweeted his wishes to the nation. “As we celebrate our independence as a nation, let us remember all those brave men and women, our freedom fighters, whose sacrifices and dedication helped us win our independence. Jai Hind,” tweeted Gandhi, who attended the flag hoisting ceremony along with his mother, Sonia Gandhi, and other Congress leaders.

Surjewala recalled that Modi, who was then Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, had created a miniature Red Fort replica in Chhattisgarh in 2013 to challenge then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to a debate. The debate was to be on corruption, threats to India’s territorial integrity from China and Pakistan, the falling rupee and a failing economy, unemployment and women’s safety.

“We ask you, Prime Minister Modi, today..., are you ready for a debate on these very issues with the Congress president? Will you debate on corruption, Rafale and Vyapam and other scams of your government for you did not utter a single word from the precincts of the Red Fort,” Surjewala said.

The Congress has alleged wrongdoing in a deal to purchase 36 Rafale military planes from the French manufacturer Dassault; the government has denied the allegation.

Vyapam is the Hindi acronym for Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, at which widespread irregularities have been alleged in tests it conducted for entrance to medical and engineering courses and to recruit candidates to fill certain government posts.

Surjewala asked if Modi was ready to have a debate on issues like the state of farmers, “mob lynching happening under the instigation and protection of BJP leaders” and “insecurity” of women.

“You did not utter a word, whether on Bihar or Unnao or any other rape incidents...,” Surjewala said, referring to sexual abuse of girls at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and the alleged rape in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator.

“...the rupee has hit a new low — that is 70 (per dollar) — and the trade deficit has gone over $18 billion (in July). Will you today debate as to the manner in which China has occupied Doklam, they are intruding into Ladakh and been engulfing India from all sides?” Surjewala said Modi should debate on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the “rampant unemployment”.

“The last speech of Modi’s as the Prime Minister has proved to be hollow because neither did he made a mention of corruption in Rafale deal nor did he say a word about Vyapam,” he said.

Surjewala said Modi also did not speak about the “environment of hate” in the country and on how hate is being propagated on the basis of religion, caste, regionalism, colour, dress and food. “We wish that at least in his last speech, he would have spoken the truth,” he said.

First Published: Aug 15, 2018 23:05 IST