PM Modi asks BJP to promote young leaders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah celebrate the party’s success in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, during the Parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
While Congress members disrupted proceedings of both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, the highlight of the day was Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning emotional as he reminisced sacrifices of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and leaders in building the party in Gujarat, where it scored a sixth win.

On the issue of an apology from the PM for his comments on his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, the Congress said it does not want to move a privilege motion against Modi as he is the PM of the country and it would set a wrong precedent. “We don’t even want an apology. But, the PM should come to the House and say that he made that statement to win Gujarat elections,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said. 

The BJP ruled out an apology. The Congress rejected the proposal that a senior Union minister might express the apology. 

At a BJP parliamentary party, the PM choked with emotion several times while addressing the event and was seen holding back tears on at least three occasions. He also called for strengthening the BJP at the grassroots, particularly the polling booth level, and pushed for promoting younger leaders for a ‘new India’, a vision for 2022, when the country completes 75 years of independence.

The PM said party members should not give a ear to the “disinformation campaign” by the Opposition that its Gujarat victory was a slim one. Reiterating his comments during his victory speech at the BJP headquarters on Monday, the PM said a sixth  win was creditable. BJP chief Amit Shah said the Congress claim of scoring a moral victory by restricting the BJP below 100 (the party bagged 99 seats, down from 115 in 2012) was “laughable”.

The PM said the Congress under Indira Gandhi, at the height of its popularity, had governments in 18 states. Currently, the BJP, with its allies, has governments in 19 states and achieved this in  three and a half years of rule at the Centre, he said.

The PM recalled how former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had patted him on the back when the BJP had won in Gujarat in 1998. Modi broke into tears as he recalled the work of Makarand Desai, Arvind Maniyar and Vasantrao Gajendragadkar, among others, in building the Jana Sangh, earlier avatar of the BJP, in Gujarat. In the context of promoting younger leadership, the PM also spoke of how he groomed BJP chief Shah, who is 14-years younger to him.

The Rajya Sabha couldn’t transact any business as the Congress continued to demand an apology from the PM for his comments during the Gujarat election campaign that predecessor Manmohan Singh, former diplomats, a former Army chief and others conspired with Pakistan to influence the state polls.

The Lok Sabha witnessed two adjournments, but transacted business after the Congress members walked out in the afternoon. 

The Congress does not have numbers in the Lok Sabha to force adjournments, and key Opposition parties, particularly the Trinamool Congress, didn’t join the protests.

In the Lok Sabha, the Congress members raised the issue as soon as the Speaker took up the question hour. The PM was present in the House at that time as questions related to the Prime Minister's Office are listed on Wednesdays in the House. Later, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra ruled out any apology from the PM.

In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said there was no question of an apology as nothing has been said in the House. The House proceedings were washed out for the entire day after a couple of adjournments in the morning.

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