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In Lok Sabha address, PM Modi omits Jawaharlal Nehru; Sonia Gandhi takes a dig at RSS

The Prime Minister was addressing the Lok Sabha on the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2017 23:12 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi,Parliament,Monsoon
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday.(Lok Sabha TV)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a clarion call on Wednesday to rid the country of corruption, poverty and illiteracy and create a new India by 2022, even as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi expressed concern over attempts by “forces of darkness” to destroy the roots of democracy.

They were speaking at a special discussion in the Lok Sabha on the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement, a defining event of India’s freedom struggle.

“In 1942, (Mahatma) Gandhi gave a clarion call Karenge Ya Marenge (Do or Die). Today it is Karenge Aur Kar Ke Rahenge (we will do and surely do). The next five years should also be about Sankalp Se Siddhi (pledge to achieve), a resolve which will lead us to accomplishment,” Modi said.

He did not mention first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech of about 30 minutes, but remembered leaders such as the Mahatma, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jai Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Chandra Shekhar Azad and Raj Guru.

For her part, Congress chief Gandhi made a veiled attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, without naming the organisation.

“We should not forget that there were people and organisations that had opposed the Quit India Movement and they played no role in the freedom struggle,” she said.

She recalled the contributions of Nehru and the Congress in the historic event of August 9, 1942.

At this point, BJP member Kirron Kher shouted “travesty, travesty” but was signalled to remain quiet by the treasury benches as the Prime Minister keenly listened to Gandhi’s speech.

The BJP steers clear of mentioning Nehru’s contributions to the country, while the Congress often accuses the RSS of doing little for India’s independence, a charge denied by the organisation.

The Prime Minister said from 2017 to 2022, when India turns 75, there is a need to create the same spirit that existed between 1942 and 1947.

He lamented that corruption has adversely affected the country’s growth and eaten the polity from inside.

Modi implored parliamentarians to rise above differences and join a common effort in the next five years to create an India that the freedom fighters had dreamt of.

He said the way political parties and state governments had extended support to the goods and services tax (GST) bill, a similar approach was needed to resolve the country’s problems.

Later, in a series of tweets, he reaffirmed his pledge to free India from poverty, dirt, corruption, terrorism, casteism and communalism, and create a “New India of our dreams” by 2022.

Congress president Gandhi, speaking after Modi in the special discussion initiated by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, said there is a feeling that “clouds of politics of division and hate” are hovering over the plural and egalitarian values enshrined in the Constitution.

“It seems secular, democratic and liberal values are being endangered. The public space for debate and difference of opinion is shrinking,” she said.

“Have the forces of darkness emerged? Is there a fear about the existence of a sense of freedom? Are attempts being made to destroy roots of democracy, which is based on equality, social justice, law-based system and freedom of expression?”

She said the resolution for Quit India was brought by Nehru and supported by Sardar Patel.

Gandhi asked people to defeat “repressive and sectarian” forces, saying: “We can and will not allow the idea of India to be a prisoner to a narrow-minded, divisive and communal ideology. If we have to preserve freedom, we will have to defeat the forces endangering it. We can’t and we won’t allow sectarian forces to succeed.”

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 12:45 IST