Lies can’t breach shield of 140 crore Indians, says PM Modi
NEW DELHI: Faced with allegations of favouring the Adani Group, PM Narendra Modi struck a combative note, asserting that the campaign of “abuses, falsehood and lowgrade lies” cannot breach the armour he enjoys because of the trust he has earned by implementing welfare schemes to improve the lives of crores of people.
Modi, while dismissing the allegations levelled by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others in the opposition who have accused his government of facilitating the growth of the Adani conglomerate, asserted that the charges would never stick to him because of his track record in implementing a host of schemes for the poor and needy. He said the latest campaign against him would fail just like other attempts to undermine him throughout his over two-decade-long stint in public office.
The PM did not refer, with the possible exception of an oblique mention, specifically to the opposition’s charge of the government’s ‘pro-Adani’ bias, but left no doubt that he considered the accusation as the latest in a series of calumny and yet another instance of compulsive contrariness he has been subjected to by his opponents.
“It has been 22 years now but they are still persisting with the illusion. The faith in Modi has not endured because of publicity on TV channels and in newspapers. It has been earned by dedicating one’s entire life to serving the people,” said PM Modi with confidence.
“The faith people of the country have shown in Modi is beyond their comprehension. How can the 80 crore beneficiaries of the free ration scheme, those with one nation, one ration card, the 9 crore beneficiaries of the Kisan Samman Scheme ever trust the baseless allegations,” he said as he listed other schemes, from Ujjawala and Swachh Bharat to Ayushman Bharat.
Modi stuns Opposition: PM’s sharpest attack summarised in this video
“There are certain individuals, who live for their own families but Modi is part of 25 crore households. The immunity shield provided by the trust of 140 crore Indians can’t be breached by weapons loaded with lies,” he said.
The PM illustrated his point by pointing to what he called contradiction in Rahul’s charge that he arm-twisted governments of Australia, Israel, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh into allotting lucrative contacts to the Adani group. “They maintained all along that in these years (during his tenure), India’s credibility has hit rock-bottom and nobody is prepared to listen to us. Now the very same people are saying that we are so strong that we can bully others. Make up your mind,” the PM said, without making any mention of the Congress leader or the charge.
He was, however, blunt in attacking Congress for corruption terming the decade-long governance of UPA beginning 2004 as the country’s most corrupt phase. “They turned each opportunity the country has had in those years into a crisis,” the PM said, adding that the spate of scams turned the UPA era into a “lost decade”.
Modi also referred to the praise in Congress quarters for Rahul’s speech on Tuesday, saying that delirious “coming-of-age” celebrations in the echo-chamber cannot mask the fact that the party is so steeped in negativity along with a sense of entitlement that it refuses to recognise that it has lost support on the ground. “They are so smug that they don’t realise that the ground from under their feet has slipped,” Modi said quoting a couplet of Dusyant Kumar, the renowned Hindi poet.
“A political organisation is a living organism and it tries to learn from the ground realities and popular mandates. But there are certain individuals who are obsessed with their ego and feel that they can find a way out by abusing Modi. You failed as a government and you have failed as an opposition as well,” he said.
He also took a dig at Rahul, who joined midway through the hour-long speech, over the Congress leader’s recent trek through Jammu and Kashmir as part of his “Bharat Jodo Yatra”. The PM recalled his visit to Srinagar in 1991 at the peak of insurgency to hoist the tricolour at Lal Chowk in defiance of threats by terrorists.
“Terrorists had dared me to hoist the tricolour and I accepted the challenge amid gunshots and explosions,” said Modi while suggesting that Rahul’s latest visit “when J&K is teeming with tourists with movie theatres running full” was like a walk in the park.
Rahul was targeted also because of his remark that rise of Adani group would make a good case study at the Harvard. “Some people are obsessed with Harvard. It is my turn to recommend to them a study that the university has done— ‘The rise and fall of Congress’,” he said.
While Congress bore the brunt, Modi took potshots at others in the opposition as well, especially over their common complaint against the use of Enforcement Directorate as a tool of political motivation. “I thought that successive mandates would fuse them into a front, but that did not happen. But what could not be achieved by successive defeats, has been made possible by the ED which has knocked them into a bloc,” he said.
It was an astute political speech, with Modi turning the controversy over Adani into an opportunity to align himself with the poor and, thus, rebut the charge of crony capitalism against him. At the same time, he avoided getting into a duel with Rahul, leaving the job instead to colleagues like Ravi Shankar Prasad and law minister Kiren Rijiju.
Also while he dealt with the allegations, Modi did not lose sight of the larger political context and what he considers to be the advantages with which BJP would be going into the 2024 elections. He listed the benefits of a “stable” and “decisive” government and how it has led the world to look favourably at India. He said India’s stock has risen globally because of its success in handling the pandemic and its aftermath and by negotiating its way through the challenges of a war and a deeply-divided world.