The Congress on Monday accused the BJP of “hypocrisy” over corruption, citing its support in Meghalaya for a party it had earlier termed corrupt, the bribery charges against a BJP lawmaker in Karnataka, and the Centre’s inaction on the Adani controversy.
Congress MP Vincent Pala played old videos that purportedly showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda describing the Conrad Sangma-led NPP government in Meghalaya as corrupt.
“The BJP is now forming the government with the NPP. This is how they fool the people of the country,” Pala said.
After the recent Assembly elections in Meghalaya, the BJP has extended support to the NPP to form the government.
“Serious allegations of corruption (against the NPP) were levelled not by small (BJP) leaders but by the Prime Minister and the home minister of the country,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said.
“J.P. Nadda declared there would be a special task force to investigate corruption cases against the Sangma government. Now they are in embrace. This is hypocrisy and deceit of the worst kind.”
Shrinate referred to Karnataka, where a BJP lawmaker has been booked after his son, a bureaucrat, was allegedly caught accepting Rs 40 lakh on behalf of his father as a bribe for issuing a government contract.
“We saw that in Karnataka, where the MLA is missing after his son was caught with bundles of cash. (BJP veteran B.S.) Yediyurappa was removed as (Karnataka) chief minister on corruption charges and now they are projecting him as the main leader,” Shrinate said.
“Why have the central agencies not yet reached Karnataka? The agencies target only Opposition leaders. They haven’t questioned Adani yet. It’s high time we had a national debate on this.”
The BJP had also attacked the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, going to the extent of calling it “anti-national”, but later tied up with it to form the government in the erstwhile state from 2015 to 2018. However, after the BJP dumped the alliance, it resumed questioning the PDP’s patriotism.
The Congress too has faced questions over its alliance with the Shiv Sena following the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly elections, after having fiercely attacked its ideological positions in the past.
However, the Congress argues that the Sena hasn’t pursued communal politics since joining the alliance and that the understanding was reached only after working out a common agenda.
The Congress referred to another aspect of the BJP’s apparent doublespeak, wondering how it could construe Rahul Gandhi’s comments in the UK about the state of democracy in India as an insult to the country when Modi had said far worse about past Indian governments.
With the BJP tearing into Rahul for his comments in the UK, the Congress has posted several videos that show Modi talking about corruption in India and the failures of past governments and suggesting the country enjoyed little respect globally before his arrival as Prime Minister.
“From Seoul to Toronto and Shanghai to Abu Dhabi, Modi criticises Opposition parties and previous governments wherever he goes,” Shrinate said.
“He said people felt what sin they had committed to have been born in India and that nothing (good) happened (in India) in 70 years – isn’t that insulting the freedom fighters and every citizen who works hard to contribute to the nation-building process?”
Shrinate continued: “And Rahul Gandhi saying Indian democracy is a public good and (discussing) how India can play a vital role in the conflict between America and China becomes an insult to India?
“If the government sees a problem with what Rahul said, let there be a debate on these issues in Parliament. I challenge the BJP to debate the statements of Modi, Rahul, China, jobs, Adani --- are they willing to have a debate?”
One of the videos posted by the Congress has Modi purportedly saying: “Ek samay tha jab log… ‘Yaar, pata nahin pichhle janam mein kya paap kiya tha ki Hindustan mein paida huye. Ye koi desh hai, ye koi sarkar hai, ye koi log hai… chalo chhodo, chale jayenge’. Aur log nikal padte theh. Udyog jagat ke log kahte theh, ‘Bhai ab yahan nahin rehna’ (There was a time when people said, ‘Don’t know what sin we had committed to have been born in India. Is this a country, is this a government, what kind of people… let’s go somewhere else’. And people used to leave. Industry people would say, ‘We don’t want to live here any more’).”
Modi had made this and similar comments overseas, breaching a decades-old consensus among Indian politicians not to speak ill of the country or its rulers on foreign soil. Rahul too has since then attacked the Modi government in his interactions outside the country, particularly pointing to the perils that Indian democracy faces.
Now that the Congress has proposed a debate in Parliament on this new trend, the Modi government has an opportunity to restore the consensus on avoiding any talk of domestic affairs on foreign soil.
But the BJP has not yet shown any inclination for discussing the subject in Parliament.