Press Trust of india

Oppn slams PM for his dig on alliance name, says he’s diverting attention from Manipur

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New Delhi: The Opposition hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday over his remarks targeting the newly-formed alliance for its name, claiming that he was “rattled” and is saying so out of desperation as he wanted to divert attention from the Manipur violence issue.

Reacting to Modi’s remarks, Rahul Gandhi said “call us whatever you want”, but “we are INDIA” and will rebuild the idea of India in Manipur.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said while “we are talking about Manipur, which is burning”, the prime minister is “talking about East India (Company) and saying INDIA means East India (Company)”.

Later, in a tweet in Hindi, Kharge said, “… The Congress party has always been with ‘Mother India’ i.e. ‘Bharat Mata’.”

“The slaves of the British were the political ancestors of the BJP. Prime Minister Modi, stop diverting the country’s attention with your rhetoric. Narendra Modiji, speak about Manipur in Parliament, do not belittle the dignity of the prime minister’s post by calling INDIA, that is Bharat, good or bad,” he said.

In a video released by the Congress, Kharge said, “Why is he (Modi) rattled by the name of our alliance INDIA, if he thinks there is nothing in a name? This means that with the opposition meetings being held successfully in Patna and in Bengaluru, they (BJP) are getting rattled and scared. They are saying all this in their fear and recalling East India Company and Indian Mujahideen.”

“They are aligned with the ideology that helped the East India Company and the British. They did not participate in the Quit India movement and the freedom movement. And the people of the ideology that killed (Mahatma) Gandhiji are telling us that we are directionless. We are not directionless, we show the way. Prime Minister Modi has become directionless,” he added.

At the Congress briefing, senior spokesperson Manish Tewari said “It is very unfortunate thing. This is a sign of government’s desperation.”

“It would not be wrong to say that this is a perfect example of their desperation and political frustration. We want to tell the prime minister that the opposition is not Indian Mujahideen, the opposition are ‘marjeevade’ (living martyrs) for India’s democracy,” he said.

When Modi was general secretary of the BJP and used to handle Punjab affairs, he would be aware of the word ‘marjeevada’, Tewari said.

“It is surprising that he is talking about the East India company, we are descendants of those who threw out the East India Company and fought for over a century against the British empire. Everyone in the country knows who was siding with the British. If a person sitting in such a responsible position says like this, then I would only say that there cannot be a bigger sign of desperation than this,” he said.

Modi slammed the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) as the most directionless the country has ever seen and cited reviled names, such as East India Company and Indian Mujahideen, to assert that people cannot be misled merely by the use of the country’s name.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the prime minister told a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting that the conduct of the opposition has been such that as if it has decided to stay in the opposition for long.

Hitting back at Modi, Gandhi tweeted: “Call us whatever you want, Mr Modi. We are INDIA. We will help heal Manipur and wipe the tears of every woman and child. We will bring back love and peace for all her people.”

“We will rebuild the idea of India in Manipur,” the former Congress chief said.

The Trinamool Congress alleged that Modi’s comparison of a political alliance to a terrorist group is a “desperate move to divert public mind from the Manipur crisis”.

“Instead of talking outside the Parliament, we challenge him to discuss the Manipur issue in the House. Prioritize people over politics,” TMC spokesperson and MP Derek O’Brien said.

He said the BJP is “rattled” after the opposition conclave in Patna and Bengaluru.

The TMC also said it is disgraceful how PM Modi “in an attempt to stash his fear of a strong opposition compared it to a terrorist group”.

“I.N.D.I.A demands accountability and answers on Manipur. The Prime Minister must address the Parliament and not run away from it,” it said.

In a tweet, TMC MP Mahua Moitra said, “Enough PM Saab- comparing INDIA to banned terrorist organisations neither behoves your office nor your dignity. Parliament is in session- why don’t you use fraction of bravado you exhibit outside House inside it & actually face INDIA.”

In a tweet, the Rashtriya Janata Dal said it is very shameful that ‘Indian’ PM remembers “only Indian Mujahideen and PFI on the mention of ‘INDIA’, not ISRO, AIIMS, IIT, IIM, IISc, NPCIL, IAS, IPS, IFS, IAF, Indian Army, Indian Navy, ITBP…or even his own designation”.

“Eyes see what your mind is capable of thinking!” the Lalu Prasad-led party said.

RJD MP Manoj Jha took a swipe at the Prime Minister, saying his advisories are harming him.

A better dictionary and books with better knowledge on history should be made available to the prime minister, Jha said in a tweet in Hindi.

“It’s sad that the PM is comparing the name of our country ‘India’ with terror outfits,” Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said on Modi’s remarks.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit out at the prime minister and asked why there was so much negativity.

“The spirit of the Constitution is at the core of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). Employment for the country’s youngsters, relief to the public from inflation, prosperity of every section, welfare of farmers-labourers, security and help to women, unity, love and peace in the country is a positive agenda,” she said in a tweet in Hindi.

“Due to politics, you have adopted a negative and derogatory attitude towards INDIA. Repeatedly associating negative connotations with the name of the country is not fair to the dignity of your post,” she said.

The people of the country do not want negative but positive politics, she added.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh claimed that it is clear that the prime minister is “very rattled by the 26-party INDIA”.

“Not only is he trying to give new life to the almost-dead NDA but has also given it a new meaning through his vile abuses this morning — the National Defamation Alliance. When he is cornered, this is what Mr Modi does all the time — deny, divert, distort, deflect and defame,” Ramesh said in a tweet.

Slamming Modi, Congress media and publicity department head Pawan Khera said in a tweet in Hindi: “Modiji, you have become so blind in opposing the Congress that you have started hating India itself. I heard that today in frustration you attacked India itself.”

Tagging BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad’s remarks elaborating on what the prime minister said at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet, Khera said, “Article 1 — India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of states.”

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate also attacked Modi for his remarks, saying while cursing the opposition, the prime minister “has started calling India good or bad?”

“One thing is clear — you give instructions to your cheap troll army. The opposition is not misguided — you are a victim of moral bankruptcy. Stop paying lip service, gather courage and speak on Manipur,” Shrinate said in a tweet in Hindi.

AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet, “Why does the Prime Minister hate India so much?

Echoing similar sentiments, Delhi Cabinet Minister and AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj said it is “unfortunate” that Modi used such words.

With opposition parties rallying around the name “INDIA” for their alliance, the prime minister, at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, cited the history of several organisations, including certain banned extremist and terror outfits, using the country’s name and panned the grouping as a collection of corrupt leaders and parties.

Even the Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, was named so by an Englishman, A O Hume, Modi said, according to sources.

Organisations that wanted to divide and rule the country have used names like “India” and “Indian” to mislead people, Modi added. People have now matured and will not be misled by such nomenclature, he asserted.

The opposition has been demanding that Modi make a statement on the Manipur issue in Parliament before a debate on the matter can be taken up. With the opposition and treasury bench members not relenting, a logjam is prevailing in both houses.

More than 160 people have lost their lives and several have been injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3.

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