New Delhi: The question was how would BJP project itself in Lok Sabha where it has an impressive majority and in Rajya Sabha where it is still in a minority. The occasion was the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address to the two Houses of parliament, which opened on Tuesday morning.
The BJP fielded Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who has won the election from Chapra in Bihar, defeating Rabri Devi, former chief minister and wife of RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav. Rudy started off on a eulogistic note, praising prime minister Narender Modi as the man the party and the country chose to lead. He said that the people placed their faith in Modi, he taunted the depleted Opposition, especially the Congress, assuring them that Modi and the government will take the opposition along. “Pradham mantri bade dil ke hai (the prime minister has a big heart),” he said. He said that there were three great leaders from Gujarat, Mahtama Gandhi, the “shanti purush (man of peace)”, Sardar Patel, the “loh purush (Iron Man)” and now Modi, the “vikas purush (Development man)”.
Rudy has also for the first time acknowledged the contribution of BJP’s ideological mentor RSS’s role in the BJP’s electoral victory. He said that the RSS worker who had no identity because he had no membership (the RSS has no official membership) and described them as “sneh, shubh chintak (friendly, well-wishers).
Rudy said that there was “fire in his belly” and that he has entered his 50s and he is not willing, nor are the people willing, to wait too long for development to take place. They wanted development now and Modi is the man who will deliver it. His constant reference was to China, and it was clear that the agenda of the BJP was to bring on par with China. “China has managed to move 40 million people from the farmlands to the cities, whereas in India, about 12 million people had to go back from the cities to the villages.
Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s speech was a tempered one. He said that there was need not to be arrogant in victory and bitter in defeat. He was indirectly cautioning that while BJP has every right to celebrate, it cannot be triumphalist. “The winner must never be arrogant. He is a trustee of the political mandate. The loser cannot be bitter. He must be gracious.” Jaitley also ackonowledged, “Azad saab has rightly said that we keep moving places.”
Jaitley argued, “These results have a much deeper meaning. People have voted for a single party with an absolute majority. The alliance represents the federal character of the country.” He said that there was a change in the social support base of the parties and that caste identities cannot any more be exploited. With regard to the minorities, he said “India has to function in a compassionate and non-discriminatory manner.” He told Azad, “We agree with some of the things you have done.”
Congress lader Ghulam Nabi Azad was subtle in his criticism of the BJP. He said that the Congress had won a better mandate than the BJP under Rajiv Gandhi, and he reminded that mandates do not last.
Sitaram Yechury, the CPI-M leader in Rajya Sabha said that he was reminded of the Hollywood movie “Hangover” looking at the mood of the BJP and Congress. He said that the President’s speech did not inspire confidence. Referring to the idea of creating 100 new cities, Yechury reminded that “It is economic development that will lead to development of cities. Building new cities will not lead to development.” He said that Muhammad bin Tughlaq also tried to build a new capital and so did Akbar try to build Fatehpur Sikri.
He described the government’s FDI policy mentioned in the President’s speech as “appeasement of foreign investors.”
In Lok Sabha, leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge told the BJP not to look down upon the small number of the Congress in the House and said that his party polled 10 crore votes and this was no small number. He also gave the Mahabharata analogy, where the Pandavas were a mere five compared to the 100 Kauravas. He criticised the government’s economic outlook as one favouring the rich and ignoring the poor.
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