NEW DELHI: A united Opposition criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for avoiding any reference to Lalitgate in his monthly radio address on Sunday. While the Congress warned him that the issue would continue to “haunt” Modi, the CPI and the AAP also attacked him for remaining silent on the controversy.
In the latest edition of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme, the Prime Minister refrained from speaking about politics or the recent controversies surrounding External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy.
Among various topics, however, he talked about the depleting sex ratio in 100 districts of the country. Also, he pitched for a mass campaign to save the girl child.
He also spoke about three recently-launched social security schemes, three developmental schemes, including ‘Housing for All’ by 2022, as well as the recently-held International Yoga Day and the need for saving water and planting trees to preserve the environment.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed disappointment over the Prime Minister’s “failure” to speak on Lalitgate.
“All over India, no one is ready to listen to ‘Mann Ki Baat....Everyone wants to listen to the voice of people in the programme,” Azad said.
Taking a dig at Modi, Azad said he continued to be a “dream merchant” in the programme as he had been merely selling dreams in India and abroad.
“It is in the interest of the Prime Minister to take immediate action against those involved in corruption. Otherwise nationally and internationally, it is going to haunt him wherever he goes,” he told reporters.
In Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu, Congress leader P Chidambaram also questioned Modi’s silence.
“The Prime Minister, who criticised Manmohan Singh for being silent, is silent now...,” he said at a meeting, referring to the controversy surrounding Raje’s links with the disgraced former IPL commissioner.
And Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh alleged that the Prime Minister was trying to bail out the former IPL czar, who has Enforcement Directorate cases against him.
“Every Sunday he talks about ‘Mann ki Baat’, but doesn’t answer the basic questions which have emerged over the past fortnight ever since the Lalit Modi controversy came up. My charge is that Narendra Modi is helping Lalit Modi. My charge is that he has promised Lalit Modi that he will be bailed out of all the cases in which he is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate,” Digvijay alleged while talking to reporters in Hyderabad.
“Let Narendra Modi come out clean on this. They (BJP) talk of morality and accountability, but when it comes to morality and accountability to be practised by the BJP, they say that what we say is absolute truth,” he said.
Lashing out at Modi, CPI leader D Raja said: “In ‘Mann Ki Baat’, he spoke on several other issues, but he has not uttered a single word on the Latit Modi issue. He has not said anything on Raje. Why is he keeping silent? The situation is getting murkier.... Who is he protecting? Mr Modi is trying to shield certain things or protect some individuals? Why this silence? This is an issue.”
And AAP leader Ashish Khetan said: “The whole country has only one ‘Mann Ki Baat’ which is what is the Prime Minister’s take on the issue of Lalitgate, Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhra Raje. And that Mann Ki Baat remained unaddressed.”
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra hit out at the Congress for criticising the Prime Minister, saying Modi had spoken on “issues of pertinence”, like the protection of the girl child, social security and water conservation.