Those who lynched a young Muslim man in Jharkhand deserve the severest punishment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, and added that violence in any part of the country should be condemned equally. Pointing out that the distinction between good terror and bad terror had inflicted the most damage to the world, Modi said that crimes, “whether in Jharkhand, West Bengal or Kerala”, should be treated at par.
Replying to the debate on the President’s speech in the Rajya Sabha, the PM — in his first speech in the Upper House after getting re-elected in May — warned the Opposition against blocking legislation in the Rajya Sabha merely because it enjoyed a majority, because voters are aware of the government’s huge majority in the Lok Sabha. He also raised electoral reforms, including the ‘one nation, one poll’ theory, and launched another scathing attack at the Congress a day after his speech in the Lok Sabha.
“It has been said in this House that Jharkhand had become the adda [hub] for mob violence and mob lynching. Mr chairman, everyone shares the grief over the youth’s murder. I also do. The guilty should get the severest of punishment. However, is it okay to blame an entire state for that?”
The Prime Minister told the House that India’s laws and the criminal justice system were fully equipped to deal with crimes. “The biggest damage in the fight on terrorism has been caused by the distinction between bad terror and good terror… my terror and your terror. All kinds of violence in the country, whether in Jharkhand, West Bengal or Kerala, should be treated with the same yardstick,” he said.
Tabrez Ansari, 22, died last week after he was thrashed by a mob, who also allegedly forced him to chant “Jai Sri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”, on suspicion of theft at Dhatkidih village in Seraikela-Kharsawan district. The incident occurred on June 18 and police have arrested 11 people in connection with the crime.
Modi also spoke — for the first time — about the deaths of children caused by encephalitis in Bihar, where more than 150 have died in the deadly outbreak. “It is a matter of shame and sadness, and all of us must take this with seriousness.” He said that the government has been in touch with the Bihar government on the issue.
In his hour-long speech, Modi cautioned Opposition MPs of the Upper House against using their numbers to upset the government’s legislative agenda. Accusing the Opposition of playing an obstructionist role, Modi said, “We know we don’t have a majority here. Therefore the mandate of the people should not be throttled. We have tolerated this for five years. It has been a loss for the country.”
The Opposition outnumbers the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Rajya Sabha and in previous term of the National Democratic Alliance government, 22 bills fell through because the Upper House did not pass them.
Turning to the chair, vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, Modi said, “We need your protection because people of this country have given us a big responsibility to fulfil their aspirations.”
Congress deputy leader in the House, Anand Sharma, said the Prime Minister had insulted the Rajya Sabha.
“Prime Minister needs to be reminded that Rajya Sabha – the Council of States – the first House of Indian Parliament and the permanent House. It has certain constitutional responsibilities and duties,” he told reporters.
The Congress also accused the BJP of obstructing the agenda of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by the party. “The BJP’s own track record should be made public between 2004 and 2014 and in particular between 2009 and 2014… the five years preceding the change of government in 2014… how many bills were stopped, how many constitutional amendments could not be passed,” Sharma said.
Modi sharply targeted the Congress during his reply, alleging the party had insulted the people’s resounding mandate in the Lok Sabha election when it said that while the BJP had won, the nation had been defeated.
“Was the victory of the Congress in Wayanad [from where Rahul Gandhi won] and Rae Bareli [where Sonia Gandhi won] a defeat of the country too?” he asked. He criticised the Opposition for its mindset of ‘negativity’ and asked why the Congress criticised all initiatives, from Swachh Bharat to the use of technology in governance, from Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to the vision of ‘New India’.
Modi said he believed that had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first home minister and a Congress leader, been India’s first prime minister, there would not have been any problems in Jammu and Kashmir. This came a day after the PM uncharacteristically quoted Jawaharlal Nehru in the Lok Sabha and said he understood the dream of India’s first PM.
Modi suggested the Congress “own” Patel as he was from their party. He said the Congress could even consider holding its working committee meeting at the site of the Statue of Unity, which has been constructed as a tribute to Patel in Gujarat.
The PM also attacked Congress for criticising the National Register of Citizens — currently undergoing in Assam to weed out so-called illegal immigrants — saying it was first agreed to by then Congress prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Assam Accord, signed in 1985 to signal end of long-drawn ethnic hostilities. Flagging his idea of ‘one country, one poll’, Modi said that the country had witnessed many electoral reforms in its history, and the time had come to initiate a discussion on simultaneous polls. “Don’t begin by rejecting it. Let’s discuss this with an open mind. Just take voter rolls — why should there be multiple voter rolls for each election? Think of the expenditure that is incurred on it… Many leaders privately tell me this is a good idea but have a different public position.”
Jun 27, 2019 00:39 IST
‘No good or bad violence’: PM on Jharkhand lynching – Hindustan Times