Rajat Sharma


akbIt was a striking contrast in Lok Sabha on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was brimming with self-confidence and the opposition was clearly lacking in confidence. Upset over the pointed attacks made by Modi against the Congress and its allies, the opposition members left the field by staging a walkout. The no-confidence motion brought by the opposition was rejected by voice vote. There was no question of voting as the opposition benches were empty. For three consecutive days, opposition leaders let out a barrage of accusations and abuses against the Prime Minister. Modi squared up the issue on Day 3. He spoke for two and a half hours. He said, the opposition, which has a tainted record of corruption and misgovernance, was seeking explanations about his government. Modi had come fully prepared. He had a list of wrongs committed by the Congress in the past. Using cricketing phrases, I can say, Modi hooked ‘sixers’ on all the ‘balls’ thrown by the opposition. He described the INDIA alliance as “a shop that peddles hate, lies and corruption”. ‘This shop will soon head towards a wind-up… Giving a coat of fresh point on a dilapidated structure will not help’, he said. When Modi started speaking on Manipur, the opposition benches were empty. Modi was in an attacking mode from the word go. As he relentlessly tore into the opposition’s past and present, his rivals decided to call it quits. Modi said, it was the opposition which had asked for the match, it was the opposition which had set the fielding, but it continued to throw ‘no ball’. If you go through Modi’s full speech, several points are clear. Modi took full advantage of the opposition’s no-confidence motion. In his reply, he pointed out their shortcomings and listed his government’s achievements. He reminded the members about the past history of Congress. In a way, Modi launched his 2024 poll campaign and explained why the BJP-led NDA will sweep the next LS elections. On the other hand, the opposition leaders, despite putting up a united front, failed to take advantage of the debate. Manipur was a burning issue on which the opposition could have grilled Modi, by putting up pointed questions. But opposition leaders carried on by throwing ‘no ball’, allowing Modi to take free hits. He hit many fours and sixes, and remained ‘not out’ till the end. The opposition had created a good debating atmosphere on Manipur issue. It appeared as if Modi was silent on Manipur and was refraining from speaking. The situation in Manipur is serious, and the opposition got a good opportunity to grill the government. But they failed to take advantage. If you go through Home Minister Amit Shah’s speech on Wednesday and PM Modi’s speech on Thursday, you will find that most of the queries of the opposition were fully addressed. Modi assured the people of Manipur that the entire nation stands with them and the problem will be resolved soon. He said, ‘the new sun of hope will rise soon’. As per tradition, the opposition gets the opportunity to put questions to the Prime Minister after his speech is over. Gaurav Gogoi, the deputy Congress leader, who moved the motion, could have asked tough questions. But since, most of the opposition parties chose to stage a walkout during the Prime Minister’s speech, Gogoi lost the opportunity. To come out of the House and then crib that BJP did not allow its Manipur MP to speak during the debate is useless. I personally felt that the Congress and its allies had got a good opportunity which they frittered away. They gave the impression that they were less worried about Manipur, and they were more adamant on forcing Modi to speak on Manipur. Since their cause for stubbornness was over when Modi spoke, they staged a walkout without listening to what the Prime Minister had to say on Manipur. This could be good for the ego of Congress leaders to say that they forced Modi to reply to Rahul Gandhi on Manipur issue, but, it is not good for the people of Manipur. The opposition could have asked pointed questions about Manipur. It could have forced the government to reply. A few good suggestions could have been better on how to defuse the situation. From the political point of view, one can say that while Modi listed out his ‘neeti, niyat, mehnat’ (policies, intention and toil), Rahul Gandhi will have to introspect on what he listed out in his speech and what he finally achieved.

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