PM says street agitations against legislature's decisions road to 'anarchy'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Lok Sabha, during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi | PTI photo

Accusing the Opposition of inciting protests against the CAA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday warned that street agitations against decisions of Parliament and state assemblies may lead to "anarchy" and that everyone should be worried over it.

Strongly defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act which has triggered protests, Modi reiterated in Lok Sabha that it does not affect any Indian citizen and poses no harm to minorities, and said that those rejected by people in elections are fuelling protests against it for their "vote bank politics".

He accused the opposition of using all its might to stoke "imaginary" fears about the law, which grants citizenship to minorities from three Muslim countries in the neighbourhood, and likened its stand to that of Pakistan, saying Islamabad spoke the same language for decades to mislead and incite Indian Muslims.

Pakistan could not succeed, and what has surprised him that those thrown out of power by voters here have resorted to doing such things, Modi said in his over 100-minute-long reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, which was later passed by Lok Sabha.

So much criticism of the CAA has been made ironically by those who love getting photographed with the group of people who want "tukde tukde" of India, he said.

The prime minister delivered rebuttal to the Opposition over most issues its members raised to criticise his government and took on the charge that he pursued communal politics and wanted Hindu rashtra. He cited comments of Jawaharlal Nehru to back the law and said the Congress stalwart wanted citizenship for minorities from Pakistan.

Modi also touched on the issues of Kashmir, economy, unemployment and farmers distress while taking frequent digs at rivals, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi whom he dubbed a "tubelight".

Hitting back at the Congress over its charge that his government violated the Constitution, Modi said it should be the party's mantra to speak frequently about "saving Constitution" so that it remembers its sanctity.

Congress government imposed the Emergency, curbed judiciary's powers, spoke against people's right to life and dismissed Opposition-run state governments frequently, he said. "We believe in the Constitution," he added.

Amid thumping of benches by ruling BJP members and their allies, the prime minister then invoked the Constitution to warn against street protests against decisions taken by Parliament and assemblies. The Congress was expected to be a responsible Opposition, but it had taken a wrong turn, he said.

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#WATCH LIVE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies in Rajya Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.

— ANI (@ANI) February 6, 2020

Noting that the CAA was passed by Parliament and duly notified, he told Opposition parties that the road taken by them raises worries, a reference to anti-CAA protests and support to them by many anti-BJP parties.

What will happen if people refuse to accept a decision taken by the Rajasthan assembly, stage dharnas and resort to arson, Modi said and gave a similar example of Madhya Pradesh. The Congress is in power in the two states.

"What will then happen? Can the country run this way? This is road to anarchy... Such a way can put you (Opposition) in trouble as well. I am giving this warning as we all should be concerned about the country," the prime minister said.

"It is due to your work that people have sent you there," he said, referring to the opposition benches. "Everybody has a right to put across their point of views but no good will come out of spreading lies and rumours. Respect the Constitution," he added.

Modi recited a verse to take swipe at opposition parties for their backing to anti-CAA protests and referred to their leaders making speeches there.

People associated with the Congress and the Left have been inciting people, he said.

Quoting Nehru, Modi said India's first prime minister in a letter to the then Assam chief minister in 1950 asked him to distinguish between Hindu refugees and Muslim migrants from Pakistan and said the law should be amended to grant citizenship to the refugees if required.

"This was not only Mahatma Gandhi's but also Nehru's sentiments. Was Pandit Nehru communal? Did he discriminate between Hindus and Muslims? Did he want Hindu rashtra?" Modi asked, asserting that several reports, including those of parliamentary panels, had recommended a law like the CAA.

He said the Congress is having problems when his government is taking decisions to fulfil wishes of the country's "founding fathers".

The Opposition has frequently accused the Modi government of pursuing communal politics, discriminating against Muslims and seeking to make India a Hindu rashtra. The country would not have seen the real face of the Opposition if it had not made so much of noise against the law, he said.

Taking a swipe at Opposition members for invoking contributions of Muslims to India's freedom struggle, he said they look at them as Muslims but they are Indians to his party.

The prime minister said that he in his youth had touched the feet of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and named other greats like Ashfaqullah Khan, Begum Hazrat Mahal and A P J Abdul Kalam to assert that they were all Indians.

Describing Kashmir as "crown jewel" of India, he said his government has pushed development measures in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that it had faith in the people of valley.

Modi cited comments of Kashmir leaders Farooq Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who had warned that any decision to nullify Article 370 may sever the valley's link with India, to ask if those who believe in India's Constitution can tolerate these remarks.

Modi said Kashmir's identity was buried on January 19, 1990, when Kashmiri Pandits started leaving the valley due to militancy. Attacking the Congress, Modi said a person who was accused of involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was made chief minister.

"Does a party that keeps talking about secularism not remember 1984 and the anti-Sikh violence. It was shameful. In addition, they did not make efforts to punish the guilty," he said.

Elaborating on his government's achievements, the prime minister said the people of the country have seen his government's work between 2014 and 2019 and gave a bigger mandate in 2019.

"The people of India saw our work for five years. They once again blessed us, so that we work even faster," he said.

Modi said India can no longer wait for problems to remain unsolved, and, rightfully so. "That is why, our aim is speed and scale, determination and decisiveness, sensitivity and solutions".

"The people of India have not only changed the Sarkar (government). They want the 'Sarokar' (conduct) to be changed as well. If we had worked according to the old ways and thought processes: Article 370 would never have been history. Muslim women would have kept suffering due to triple talaq," he said.

The prime minister said if his government worked as per the old ways, the Ram Janmabhoomi issue would have remained unsolved, Kartarpur Sahib corridor would not be a reality and there would be no India-Bangladesh land agreement.

Without naming Rahul Gandhi, Modi said, "I heard an Opposition MP saying 'we will beat Modi with sticks in 6 months'. I have also decided I will do more 'Surya Namaskar'. This will make my back even stronger to face abuses. In any case, I have been abused so much for the last 2 decades that their negativity hardly matters."

On the economy, the prime minister said the government has kept the fiscal deficit in check, price rise is also under control and there is macro-economic stability.

Modi said the agriculture budget, which was earlier Rs 27,000 crore, has now been increased by five times to about Rs 1.5 lakh crore. The agriculture budget has risen five times during the tenure of the NDA Government. The prime minister said driven by politics, some states are not allowing farmers to benefit from the PM Kisan Scheme.

"I appeal to them, let there be no politics in farmer welfare. We all have to work together for the prosperity of farmers of India," he said.

He said the PM-KISAN Samman Yojana is transforming the lives of many farmers. Several farmers have benefited due to this. In this scheme there are no middlemen and no extra file work.

Modi said the FDI in April-Sept 2018 stood at $22 billion, while in April-Sept 2019 it increased to USD 26 billion. This reflects confidence of foreign investors in India, he said.

Referring to the Northeast, Modi said for years, distance became a reason to ignore this region. Things have changed now and the region is becoming a growth engine as great work has been done in so many sectors and ministers and officials are regularly visiting the Northeast.

"Despite many efforts, the issue was unsolved for years. Whatever was done earlier was for meeting political ends, remained confined to papers.

"The Bodo Accord signed now is special because it has brought all stakeholders together and we are moving towards a more peaceful era," he said.

At the beginning of his speech, some Congress MPs raised slogans hailing Mahatma Gandhi with party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury saying, "it is just a trailer".

Modi shot back: "Mahatma Gandhi may be trailer for you, but he is life for us".

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