In last speech of 16th Lok Sabha, PM Modi seeks new majority
In his last address to the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it was for the first time in 30 years that the country had got a non-Congress ‘gotra’ government and that the world was now taking India more seriously because it had a majority government.Updated: Feb 13, 2019 23:47 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi bade goodbye to the 16th Lok Sabha on Wednesday with a speech that mixed good humour with gentle swipes at his rivals, warmly praised the leader of the Opposition, and pitched for a clear majority in the general elections this spring.
Modi, a first-time parliamentarian, shared the credit for all the work done during his term in office with the Opposition. As many as 219 bills were placed in Lok Sabha, of which 203 were passed, including landmark laws against black money and corruption; the House scrapped more than 1,400 outdated laws, hacking through a “jungle” of legislation, Modi said.
In the past five years, he said, India had become the sixth-largest economy in the world and was well on its way to achieving $5 trillion in annual economic output.
“There is a lot of confidence in the country now. Major organisations around the world are talking about India. India has made a place for itself in the digital world. We have now become the centre for economic activity with our initiatives such as Make in India,” Modi said.
The 68-year-old Prime Minister said the world was now sitting up and taking note of India and its achievements because it had a majority government.
“The world recognises a full majority government. India suffered globally for long due to fractured mandates, it is now taken seriously because of the majority government,” Modi said, as he seeks re-election against an Opposition seeking to build a rainbow coalition to oust the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) from power.
“It [majority government] had a big role to play in our foreign relations,” Modi said, adding that neither he nor external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj could claim credit for India’s enhanced images in the eyes of the world. He credited it to the electorate.
“I saw the plaque [at my seat in the Lok Sabha] which had only the names of three prime ministers... Experts with liberal ideologies who give sermons every day will definitely deliberate on this,” Modi said in an apparent dig at the Congress. A visual of the PM’s seat in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday showed three plaques with names of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri, all Congress leaders who have served as the prime minister.
Under Modi, the BJP became the first party in 30 years to win a clear majority on its own in the 2014 general election; it won 282 seats in the 543-member lower house. The Congress under Rajiv Gandhi had been the last party, in the 1984 Lok Sabha polls, to win a commanding majority on its own. Modi said his was the first majority government that belonged to a non-Congress “gotra” (lineage).
The PM reminisced about his first term in the Lok Sabha, saying, for one, that he had learned the difference between embracing someone and piling on, an oblique reference to Congress president Rahul Gandhi giving him a hug in the House last year, then following it up with a wink at his colleagues.
“I am a first-time member of Parliament and learnt several new things. I got to know the difference between gale milna and gale parna [hugging and piling on]. I got to know about aankhon ki gustakhiyaan [mischief of the eyes],” Modi said.
Last year in July, Rahul Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha that the BJP may hate him, but he has no hard feelings for the PM. “I love you and respect you because I am the Congress,” Gandhi had said and then walked over to the Prime Minister and embraced him.
In another reference to Gandhi, who was absent, the Prime Minister noted that there had been no “earthquake” in the last five years, as had been predicted by some people. This was another reference to Rahul Gandhi, who said last year that there would be an earthquake in Parliament if BJP members allowed him to speak about the Rafale deal controversy. Referring to Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Modi rued the fact that Kharge had a sore throat and couldn’t speak too much. “It would have been nice if he could speak today. I couldn’t hear him many times, but I used to read the details later on. It was important. His words would get me thinking and in a way, I used to get the fuel for my speeches from his words. I am grateful to Kharge,” Modi said. The PM praised speaker Sumitra Mahajan and said eight of 17 sessions of the Lok Sabha had over 100% productivity. The overall productivity was recorded at over 85%. It was left to Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav to pay a compliment -- an unexpected one -- to Modi. “I want to congratulate the PM... I want all the members to get elected again and you become the PM again,” said Yadav, who was thanked by Modi for his “blessings”.
First Published: Feb 13, 2019 17:28 IST