NEW DELHI: Accusing the Congress of taking parliamentary proceedings "to a new low" with its conduct, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a fast by BJP MPs on April 12 to protest the impasse "caused" by the opposition party in Parliament, which saw a washout of the second half of the Budget Session.
Addressing BJP MPs on the party's foundation day, Modi kept the Congress in his line of fire and spelt out an exercise by party lawmakers and ministers for reaching out to villages with substantial Dalit and tribal population through implementation of his government's seven key welfare schemes.
Briefing reporters on the parliamentary party meeting, Union minister Ananth Kumar quoted the prime minister as saying that while the BJP's strength has been rising, the opposition, especially the Congress, has resorted to "divisive and negative" politics.
Modi accused the Congress of paralysing Parliament proceedings during the Budget Session, which ended today, and said it was "throttling" democracy and "abusing" people's mandate.
Sources said he also told the MPs that opposition members almost surrounded him during his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address to Parliament, and such a disruption during a prime minister's speech was unprecedented.
Modi had replied in both Houses during the session's first half.
He said he continued with his speech for over 90 minutes for the sake of democracy amid relentless protests by opposition MPs, according to sources.
The opposition has been left with no issues and that is why it was resorting to disrupting Parliament, he said, asking BJP MPs to expose such parties.
Parliamentary proceedings stooped to a new low due to the conduct of the Congress, he said.
All BJP MPs will observe a day-long fast on April 12 to protest the opposition's conduct in Parliament, Modi said.
While the BJP has been working to unite society, the opposition wants to divide it, he said.
The BJP, he said, will observe the birth anniversary of Jyotiba Phule, a social reformer who came from a backward caste, on April 11 as 'Samta Diwas' (equality day).
He also stressed on the need for all MPs to organise events to mark the birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar, a Dalit icon, on April 14, asserting that it is mandatory for them to do so, sources said.
The BJP and its top brass have been underlining the party's commitment to the welfare of Dalits and works of the Modi government to highlight Ambedkar's legacy at a time when opposition parties have accused the ruling party of being anti-Dalit.
Noting that the party has announced 'Gram Swaraj Abhiyan' between April 14 and May 5, he asked BJP law-makers to ensure total implementation of seven welfare schemes of his government in villages, especially the ones with a population of over a thousand, sources said.
Ananth Kumar told reporters that Modi said about 20,844 villages have over 50 per cent population of scheduled castes and tribes and MPs should work to implement these schemes, including Jan Dhan and Ujjwala among others.
All MPs will spend a night in these villages while ministers will spend two nights in different parts of the country.
The party will also take out 'Sabka saath sabka vikas yatra', Kumar said.
With the BJP celebrating its 38th foundation day, Modi said it has become the largest party due to the people's blessings and tireless efforts of its workers and also paid tributes to many of its late leaders and workers.
The foundation day is dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for the party's growth, the prime minister said.
It has risen due to its work for the nation's development.
The BJP did not focus on casteism or dynasty, he said.
The BJP had been treated as an "untouchable" party by others when it was founded in 1980 but it has become strong due to people's faith in it.
"People have taken us to this level and now we have to live for them," he said.
He also asked party MPs to see a drama on Maratha king Shivaji, being performed in Delhi and noted that he had travelled to Pune from Gujarat almost 30 years back to see it.