Government’s reply to Rahul Gandhi: ‘Fearless’
President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday told Parliament that India today has a “fearless” and “decisive” government and cited a host of decisions from the cancellation of Article 370 provisions to instant triple talaq as proof.
The assertion in the speech — traditionally prepared by the government — came a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi taunted top leaders of the BJP for appearing scared to undertake a walk in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Today India has a government which is stable, fearless, decisive and working with lofty ambitions,” Murmu said in her first speech to the joint session of Parliament.
“My decisive government has always kept the country’s interest paramount and shown the will power to completely transform the policies and strategies when required,” she said.
“From surgical strike to a firm crackdown on terrorism, from a befitting response to every misadventure from the LoC to the LAC, from abrogation of Article 370 to triple talaq, my government has been recognised as a decisive government,” Murmu added.
All through his 150-day Bharat Jodo Yatra that concluded in Srinagar on Monday, Rahul had accused the BJP government of “spreading fear”. In Srinagar, Rahul went on to dare top BJP leaders to walk like him in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I can guarantee you that no BJP leader can walk like this in Jammu and Kashmir. They will not do it, not because they won’t be allowed to, but because they are scared,” Rahul had said.
The President’s address on the first day of every budget session is meant to give a broad direction of the work the central government wants to pursue in the upcoming financial year while making references to the highlights of the work done in the past year.
Tuesday’s address, however, seemed to stress more on what the government had already done and play them up. Possibly eyeing the Lok Sabha polls next year, “gratitude” was expressed towards the people for electing a “stable government for two consecutive terms”, indirectly stressing that India could tackle the pandemic only due to this.
“The stable and decisive government has enabled us to deal with the biggest calamity in 100 years and the situation that arose thereafter. Wherever in the world there is political instability, those countries are beset with severe crises today,” the President said. “But India is in a much better position than the rest of the world due to the decisions taken by my government in the national interest,” she added.
The speech began by conjuring the dream of a glorious era, harping on the “Amrit Kaal” of 25 years leading to the “golden centenary of Independence” in 2047, an issue Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps underscoring.
“By 2047, we have to build a nation which not only embraces its glorious past, but also conquers every golden aspect of modernity. We have to build a Bharat which is self-reliant and also able to fulfill its humanitarian obligations; a Bharat which has no poverty and the middle class is also prosperous…,” the President said, outlining the image of a developed India.
The dream of India in 2047 encompassed efforts to preserve its diversity, an ironic reference amid the intensifying atmosphere of hate in the country. “A Bharat whose diversity is even more vivid and whose unity becomes even more unshakeable,” Murmu said.
The address outlined the yearning to rise to the top but at the same time claimed that India had already emerged as a solution provider to the world. “Today, India’s self-confidence is at its highest and the world is looking at her from a different perspective. India is providing solutions to the world,” she said.
The President termed the construction of the Ram temple and the development of other religious sites as “consolidating heritage” while giving priority to development.
“Today, on the one hand, Ayodhya Dham is being constructed in the country; while on the other hand, the modern Parliament House is also being built. On the one hand, we have constructed Kedarnath Dham, Kashi Vishwanath Dham and Mahakal Mahalok, on the other hand, our government is also building medical colleges in every district,” Murmu said.
The speech also focused on claiming how the government had worked for the uplift and empowerment of women, signalling the BJP government’s intention of focusing on this segment as a vote bank.
BJP leaders said that apart from introducing more schemes for women, there were discussions to push the women’s reservation bill ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
“All the welfare schemes launched by my government have at the centre of them a vision to make life easier for women, provide new opportunities for employment and self-employment to women and ensure women empowerment,” President Murmu said, adding that for the “first time in the country, the female population now outnumbers that of males” due to the government’s efforts.
Two Opposition parties — the Bharat Rashtra Samiti, earlier the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, and the Aam Aadmi Party — boycotted the President’s address, accusing the government of using the President to spread lies and not addressing issues of people’s importance like unemployment and the Adani controversy.
Top Congress leaders like Mallikarjun Kharge and Adhir Chowdhury and many other MPs could not attend the address as they were stranded at Srinagar airport because of bad weather.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was in attendance and said the President’s address seemed like an “election speech”, adding that the BJP government appeared to be campaigning through her. “The entire speech was an election speech trying to praise the government for everything it has done and skipping over the bits it hasn’t done so well,” Tharoor said.