New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the Congress party in Parliament, accusing it of serving the interest of just one family and yearning for an 'old India' - an era marked by 'a series of scams.'
In a speech that was made amidst continuous slogan shouting by Congress members in the Lok Sabha and later a largely uninterrupted Rajya Sabha, Modi took on the Congress for its various omissions and commissions in its more than five decades of rule and taunted the party over its demand for a "Gandhian India".
"I am also in favour of Gandhian India because Congress-free Bharat was the idea of Gandhiji," he said in the Rajya Sabha. He was speaking in both the Houses of Parliament in reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the president's address which was adopted without any amendments by the two Houses.
He accused the Congress of having a "small mind" and fostering one family's legacy at the country's cost and said there was "festival of honesty" under his government with people knowing they will get account of the tax they pay.
Modi argued that the Congress had no right to give lessons on democracy and should not "mislead" the country on the issue of employment generation.
He said Congress-led UPA was fully responsible for the NPAs of banks and the country will never forgive the party for its "sin".
Congress members protested throughout Modi's over 90 minute speech, raising slogans and displaying placards.
Modi also sought to reach out to the middle class, which is seemingly feeling squeezed by the tax proposals in the Union Budget, saying the government was bringing about ease of living through good governance, improving education, infrastructure and housing.
With some MPs from Andhra Pradesh protesting before his speech over the pending promises at the time of division of state, Modi accused the Congress of "dividing" the state and earlier the country in 1947 for political gains.
"This is your character. You divided India. Even after 70 years of Independence, 125 crore people of India continue to suffer because of the poison you sowed. Not a single day passes when people of India are not punished for your sins.
"When we speak about creating new states, we remember the manner in which Atal Bihari Vajpayee created Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. He showed how farsighted decision making is done," Modi said.
Attacking Congress over its leaders' claims about the development done by the party in its long rule, Modi said several countries, which had gained independence around the time when India had attained it, had surged ahead in development.
He said there was nominal opposition during the first few decades after Independence and Congress held sway and even decided top judicial appointments. "But you spent the entire time singing songs in praise of one family forgetting the country. If you had worked responsibly channelizing the energy of people, the country would have reached new heights..."
Congress feels that the country was born on August 15, 1947 and democracy was given by the party and by the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he said, noting that "there was democracy in India from ancient times".
"The Congress has no right to talk about democracy after its dark act of imposing Emergency and jailing opposition leaders, including JP," he said.
Modi said that if Sardar Vallabhai Patel had been the first prime minister instead of Nehru, the country would have not faced the Kashmir problem.
He also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi's elevation as Congress chief, and also slammed him for tearing the then UPA government's ordinance to save convicted legislators from disqualification.
He also accused the party of inaugurating half-finished projects to gain publicity.
Referring to unemployment, he said four opposition ruled states - West Bengal, Karnataka, Odisha and Kerala - had claimed to have generated one crore jobs. "Will you not treat it as employment," he said, adding that unemployment was posed as a national problem and the answer has also to be in a national perspective.
Modi said the aspirational youth from the middle class were keen on setting up their own enterprise than on jobs. "We should support their aspirations," he said, adding that the NDA government has given 10 crore Mudra loans.
"Is it not a boost to employment. You have a habit of singing your praises... Atalji had said no one rises with a small mind."
In the Upper House, Modi attacked the Congress, saying those opposing the dream of 'New India by 2022' want to live with their baggage of the past.
He also took digs at the Congress over various alleged scams of distant and recent past and for blocking the triple talaq legislation.
"The president has spoken of New India in his address. Swami Vivekananda also dreamt of a new India. Mahatma Gandhi would also speak of Young India. I don't know what is the (Congress') problem with the New India.
"If not New India, do you need India of army jeep scam, of submarine scam, of Bofors scam, of (Agusta) helicopter scam, of Emergency when the country was turned into a jail? Do you need India of the time when thousands of innocent Sikhs were massacred after a 'big tree' fell? Do you need India of the time when the culprit of thousands of deaths was provided an airplane to fly out of the country (after the Bhopal gas tragedy)? " Modi asked.
"Is this why you don't need New India?" Modi asked.
He said his government was being labeled as "name changer not game changer", but actually it was an "aim chaser" government that works hard and mobilizes resources to achieve its targets in a given timeframe.
Raking up the triple talaq bill that is pending in the Rajya Sabha, Modi said the Congress now wants changes in the Bill but it never brought such legislation while in power.
Replying to opposition's criticism of government splurging hundreds of crores on Swachh Bharat Mission advertising, Modi said the money was not being splurged on giving full page advertisements on the "birthdays of a single family" but was being utilized for "behavioral change".
The prime minister also yet again raked up the issue of simultaneous polls and urged the parties to start a comprehensive discussion on the matter as this would save thousands of crores of rupees which can be used to fund various welfare schemes for the poor.
"In 2009, the Lok Sabha election cost around Rs 1,000 crore. In 2014, the cost rose to Rs 4,000 crore. In future elections this will go further up. We need a lot of money for poor people's welfare," Modi said.