“If Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister despite his poor background, it is because we preserved democracy.”
This is what Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said while responding to oft-repeated contention of the BJP that nothing was done during the Congress rule in 60 years.
The claim over who made “sacrifices” for the country’s independence also led to a clash between BJP and Congress members during a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address.
Kharge said it was not right to say that Congress did nothing over the last 60 years as Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and other leaders of the party had made “sacrifices” for the nation.
The Congress leader took objection to BJP’s contention that all development was taking place only under the Modi government.
He said the current NDA dispensation would even go on to claim that the Green and White revolutions took place under it.
Taking a dig, he said BJP would claim that even Verghese Kurien, father of White Revolution, was born during the Modi government.
“When people were facing hunger, it was Congress which gave them food,” he said. “It was done by Indira Gandhi,” Congress President Sonia Gandhi was quick to add.
Amid continued alteraction between the two sides continued, Kharge said over the 60 years, Congress had preserved Constitution and democracy because of which Modi could become the Prime Minister.
“If anybody has to be given credit, it is Congress, Nehru and Indira. You are asking what happened in 60 years? If nothing had happened, you would not have been alive and Constitution would not have been protected,” he said.
“If anybody worked to protect the Constitution, it was us,” he said, adding “You emotionally exploit people in the name of the religion. You are trying to break the nation. It is because of the Congress party that democracy and the Constitution has been protected. It has played a pivotal role in preserving democracy.”
He said nobody has made sacrifices from BJP and in this regard used a certain word.
The ruling side reacted sharply to the use of that word and demanded apology from Kharge besides expunging of the “unparliamentary” word.
“We condemn this. Lakhs of people have sacrificed their lives for the nation. Congress party is not the custodian of making sacrifices,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar who was seen interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the remark was made.
He said Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, the founder of BJP’s ideological parent Bhartiya Jana Sangh had “laid down his life in Kashmir for the unity of the nation”.
“Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay (another Jana Sangh stalwart) also laid down his life for the country,” Kumar said.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also took objection to use of the word uttered by Kharge and said the word will not go on record.
“What is wrong has be to called a wrong. There are different versions of history. There is no reason for any controversy over the issue,” he said.
But the Congress too protested for expunging the word.
Some BJP members said Indira had imposed Emergency in the country.
Sonia was quick to react, “we have an Emergency even today.”
Kharge added: “at that time, it was a declared Emergency.
Under you there is an undeclared Emergency. No journalist can say anything, nobody can do anything…”