Modi hurls 'balak buddhi' barb at Rahul, asserts mandate for stability, continuity

Modi mentioned Rahul Gandhi as 'balak buddhi' (childish mind), accused him of linking Hindus with violence and making false claims in Lok Sabha
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 2, 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 2, 2024.PTI

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday mounted a stinging counterattack on Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi as he mocked him as 'balak buddhi' (childish mind), accused him of linking Hindus with violence and making false claims in Lok Sabha, and sought stringent action against him to protect parliamentary democracy.

Replying to a nearly 18-hour-long discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lower House, Modi said the Congress and its "ecosystem" are working day and night to impress upon people that the BJP-led NDA has been defeated in the elections despite voters handing his government a historic third-term for stability and continuity.

"I will tell Congress leaders to not suppress people's mandate under the garb of fake victory celebrations," he said and added the opposition party was behaving as if it had won 99 out 100 seats and not out of 543, the actual strength of the House.

The Congress turned into a "parasitic party" in these polls, feeding off its partners' votes to boost its tally, he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 2, 2024.
Congress a parasite for its allies, eats up their votes: PM Modi; Opposition chants 'stop lying'

Instead of conceding defeat, the Congress is behaving arrogantly, he said, adding its cheerful response to the mandate is like a parent encouraging a child who has fallen off a cycle.

In his nearly 135-minute speech, which saw continuous slogan-shouting on the Manipur issue and heckling by opposition members, Modi turned his usual combative self after initially listing various successes of his government since 2014 as he took on the Congress and Gandhi without naming him.

"The mandate for the Congress is to sit in the opposition and keep shouting once it runs out of logic," he said.

Asserting that the main opposition party delivered its third worst performance in the national elections and failed to reach 250-mark after the 1984 polls, he took a swipe at Gandhi saying, "Aaj desh inse kah raha hai - tumse na ho payega (Country is telling him that you are not up to it)".

He said the Congress became a "parasitic party" in these polls as its tally of 99 was largely curtsey its allies, while it performed poorly with a strike rate of merely 26 per cent where the party was pitted directly against the BJP or was the main opposition force.

Its strike rate rose to 50 per cent where it was a junior partner, he added.

The Congress won only two out of 66 seats in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, he said while contrasting the BJP's performance in Lok Sabha as well as assembly polls in Odisha where it formed its maiden government.

The Congress is not visible even with the help of a microscope in four states where assembly polls were held while the NDA won an unprecedented mandate.

He accused the party of trying to spread anarchy through its economic policies, "divisive" politics around castes and regions and by raising doubts about India's democratic process.

Keeping the Congress, especially Gandhi, in his crosshairs, Modi said it has become addicted to lies like a man-eater animal to blood.

The House witnessed childish conduct yesterday, he said of Gandhi's speech in which the Congress leader had targeted the government over the Agnipath scheme, the MSP regime and the revamping work in Ayodhya and accused it of violating tenets of Hinduism by allegedly spreading violence and hate, drawing massive protests by treasury benches.

Many of his comments were later expunged by the Chair.

"Laments of 'balak buddhi' went on. 'I have been beaten'. A new drama was rolled out to gain sympathy," he said in reference to Gandhi's charge that he was targeted in different criminal cases at the behest of the central government.

The fact is he is on bail in a corruption case of thousands of crore of rupees, was convicted for calling an OBC community thief and had to tender an apology before the Supreme Court for speaking lies, Modi said, adding that he has been facing several cases of defamation.

This "balak buddhi" at times tries to hug someone in the House and sometime winks, the prime minister said, accusing him of tainting Parliament's decorum with his conduct despite being a many-term MP.

He said, "Parliament was misled yesterday. Parliamentary democracy cannot be protected without taking the issue seriously." He told Speaker Om Birla that the House and the country expect him to take stringent action to stop this practice of lies.

Gandhi, who was present in the House, was reprimanded by Birla for nudging opposition members to enter the Well to protest during Modi's speech, and the House later passed a motion moved by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and seconded by Home Minister Amit Shah to condemn the opposition's obstructionist conduct.

When seasoned leaders of the party choose this path of anarchy, it shows that the country is headed for trouble, the prime minister said.

He asked opposition parties to work with the government on issues of national interest but kept the heat on Gandhi as he concluded his speech by wishing that the God grant good sense to "balak buddhi".

Modi, at one point during his speech, offered a glass of water to Congress member Manickam Tagore, who was protesting in the Well.

Slamming Gandhi over his reference to Hinduism, he said Hinuds were linked to violence even though it is their tolerance which has allowed diversity to bloom in the country.

"Is this your values and mindset," he asked, claiming that a conspiracy is being hatched to target the community and people will not forgive such conduct for centuries.

The Congress leader has insisted that his target was the BJP and the RSS.

Images of Gods, the prime minister said, should not be used for personal political interests, as he asserted that "insult to our Gods" has hurt Hindus.

Gandhi had displayed a picture of Lord Shiva in Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Hindu society will have to think if what happened in Lok Sabha yesterday was merely a coincidence or part of an experiment, Modi added.

Claiming that an ecosystem has been working against the interests of the country, he warned them of a response in their language.

He accused the Congress of spreading brazen lies on the Agnipath scheme to discourage youngsters from joining forces and weaken his government's efforts to strengthen India's military might.

Through scams and neglect, the Congress has for decades weakened the armed forces, while he has been working to reform and modernise the defence sector.

Turning to paper leaks, he said his government is taking steps on a war-footing to prevent their recurrence and that the guilty will not be spared.

Arrests are taking place across the country.

"The people have seen that we have worked with dedication for the welfare of the poor, fulfilling the mantra of 'public service is God's service'," he said.

The prime minister said he can understand the pain of some who despite spreading lies and misleading the people had to face a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections.

"When we had won in 2014, we had said our slogan was zero tolerance towards corruption. I am proud that the common people, who were reeling under corruption and the country had been hollowed out before 2014, have blessed us for our zero tolerance for corruption," Modi said.

His government worked in the true spirit of Constitution and secularism by working for everyone, he said and took a dig at the opposition saying those who are dancing with the Constitution on their head lacked courage to implement it in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Congress tried to finish off the political career of B R Ambedkar and ensured that another Dalit leader Jagjivan Ram never became prime minister, he claimed.

He said the policy of appeasement had harmed the country.

"The country has seen that our primary objective is 'nation first'. Every step and action of ours has been guided by 'nation first'. With this in mind, we have continued reforms. We do not believe in 'tushtikaran' (appeasement) but 'santushtikaran' (saturation)," Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 2, 2024.
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