NEW DELHI (IANS) — Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday slammed the BJP-led government at the Centre for not taking any action against its MP Pragya Thakur who had described the killer of Mahatma Gandhi as a “patriot”.
Azad also criticised the government over the issue of mob lynchings which he said has became the norm in the last five years.
While speaking on the motion of thanks on President Ram Nath Kovind’s address, Azad said, “The President said a lot of things in his joint address. He said that this year we shall be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and it is a matter of pride for the citizens of the country.”
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said that he felt “sorry” when a BJP candidate described the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi as a “patriot”.
“I feel sorry that when we shall be celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a few MPs have been elected from the ruling party who described his killer as a patriot,” Azad said, in a reference to BJP’s Bhopal MP Thakur who had kicked up a controversy during the campaign for the recent Lok Sabha polls when she called the Mahatma’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, a “patriot”.
Azad said that the BJP candidate made such comments during the Lok Sabha poll campaign. “This is my complaint to the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi),” he said.
He said the Prime Minister should have dismissed or taken action against her.
He also slammed the government for allegedly spending over 50 per cent of the total funds of central schemes like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ on publicity and not spending 20 per cent at all.
The Congress leader said it is for the first time ever that more funds are spent on publicity than on the schemes themselves.
“In the last five years, the government spoke a lot about women empowerment, security, and education. They could not ensure education or security even to young girls.”
Azad said that for the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme, “56 per cent of the total funds were spent on publicity.
“Similarly, for the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ over 50 per cent of the funds were spent on publicity. This is for the first time that more funds were spent on publicity than on the schemes. About 20 per cent of the funds were not spent at all. For so less money, how will the ‘Beti’ get the education?” he questioned.
He also said that since the BJP came to power, several agencies have stopped publishing reports on several parameters, including crimes against women.
“There has been no report on crimes against women since 2016,” he said.
He also urged the BJP to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill as it has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha.
“The real change will come when women will be included in the decision-making process. You have a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. The opposition parties are ready to extend the support in the Rajya Sabha for the Bill,” he said as he urged the Centre to pass the Bill.
He also attacked the government over “suppressing” of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report which highlighted that jobs were at a 45-year low in the last five years.
He also claimed that the government’s decision of implementing demonetisation and a faulty goods and services tax (GST) led to the closure of lakhs of small scale industries resulting in loss of crores of jobs.
Azad also targeted Modi over his new slogan of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas’, and said, “A number of ministers in your government spoke against different communities. But you did not take action against them.”
Slamming the government over cooperative federalism, Azad said, “(Ex-Prime Minister) Rajiv Gandhi dismissed a party general secretary for giving statements against a community in 1988.”
He said, “To win the people’s faith some action must be taken against the culprits.”
Azad then also highlighted the issue of mob lynchings and said, “Jharkhand has become the factory of mob lynching.”
Taking a jibe at the ruling party, the Congress leader said that the President talked about the laying of foundation of the country in 2014.
“If nothing would have happened in last 70 years, then today we would not have the number of power stations, vast railway network, number of government companies, institutions, green revolution,” he said, adding that the present government needs to give credit to the the previous governments as well.
Attacking the BJP over its slogan of “New India”, Azad said that he never heard America or China or Great Britain talking about “New America” or “New China” or “New Great Britain”.
“It should be ‘advanced India’ and not the ‘new India’,” he said, adding, “Give us our old India where there was love, affection and culture among the people.”
“We are seeing that in ‘new India’ a culture has emerged that now people are enemies of people,” he said.
Azad also slammed the government over the cooperative federalism and said that he has seen cooperative federalism “dying” a number of times in last five years.
He gave the examples of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Goa, and Tripura where he alleged the people’s mandate was not respected by the BJP.
He said that the government talks about equal opportunities, “but the fact is that the economy lies in the hands of a few people who are close to the government.”
Hitting out at the government over it’s failure to bring back economic offenders, Azad said, “The President talked about the success of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. But where are Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi?”
“The big economic offenders are fleeing from the country while small offenders are turning clean by joining the BJP,” he said.
He also accused the BJP of ruling Jammu and Kashmir indirectly through President’s rule in the state.
“If you claim that the panchayat and general elections were a success in Jammu and Kashmir, then why did you not hold Assembly elections in the last one-and-a-half years?” Azad questioned.
He said the BJP knows well that it cannot come to power in the state and so it is controlling the state through President’s rule.
Azad further claimed that militancy has spiked in the state and civilians and the armed forces have faced the worst losses in the last five years.