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Rahul hits out at govt on Manipur


Published on: August 9, 2023 | Updated on: August 9, 2023

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)

New Delhi: Delivering his first speech after being reinstated as a member of the Lok Sabha, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday lodged a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that the government has "murdered Bharat Mata" in Manipur.

He raised the temperature in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the debate on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government by referring to members of the ruling party as "traitors".

Gandhi alleged the Prime Minister does not consider the state to be a part of India. "I went to Manipur a few days ago. Our Prime Minister has not gone there, he has not gone there till now. He does not consider Manipur a part of India. I used the word Manipur, but the reality is that there is no Manipur left. You have divided Manipur into two parts, you have broken up Manipur," Gandhi lashed out.

"As I had said, India is a voice of the people. You killed that voice in Manipur. This means that you murdered Bharat Mata in Manipur," Gandhi asserted amid thumping of desks by the Opposition leaders.

These comments drew a sharp protest from the BJP members, who objected to Gandhi’s statement. "By killing the people of Manipur you have murdered Bharat, you are not desh bhakt (patriot) but desh drohis (traitors)," Gandhi continued, despite the protests by the ruling party members.

"The Prime Minister cannot go to Manipur because he has murdered Hindustan there… You are not the protectors of Bharat Mata but its killers," he said. Speaker Om Birla then urged Gandhi to exercise restraint while speaking in the House, asserting that "Bharat Mata is our mother". However, Gandhi said: "I am talking about the murder of my mother in Manipur. I am speaking with respect that you murdered my mother in Manipur. My mother is sitting here. The other mother, Bharat Mata, you killed in Manipur," he said, pointing to Sonia Gandhi, who was sitting in the front row in the Lok Sabha. "Till you do not stop violence in Manipur, you are murdering my mother," he said.

As the Treasury Benches protested and attacked Gandhi, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said the Congress leader should apologise for his remarks as it was the Congress that was responsible for the insurgency and other problems in the Northeast. Members of various Opposition parties rushed to the Well to protest Rijiju's comments in the middle of Gandhi’s speech and one of them was seen hitting the Speaker’s desk.

Congress members were also heard telling the Treasury Benches that they will also disrupt Modi’s speech when he replies to the motion on Thursday.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi was seen going to different rows occupied by the MPs of the BJP and its allies, apparently advising them to keep quiet.

Continuing his no-holds-barred attack on the government in his over 30-minute speech, Gandhi alleged that the Prime Minister listens to only two people, Amit Shah and Gautam Adani, just as Ravan paid heed to only two people’s advice — Meghnad and Kumbhakaran.

Gandhi also showed an old poster of Modi and Adani sitting together in an aircraft, and claimed that "Modi doesn’t listen to India’s voice but theirs (Adani group)." The Prime Minister was not present in the House when Gandhi spoke. However, ruling party MPs protested over the poster, pointing out that it was not allowed by the rules. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla again asked Gandhi to exercise restraint.

"Hanuman had not burnt down Lanka, Ravan’s arrogance  did it. Ravan was not killed by Ram but by his arrogance," Gandhi said, referring to the Ramayan epic.

He said that the Indian Army that could swiftly bring peace to Manipur but the government was not deploying it. On his experience of visiting relief camps in Manipur, Gandhi said: "I asked a woman about what happened to her and she replied that her small son, an only child, was shot before her eyes. She told me that she spent the whole night with the body of her child and then she felt afraid and left her house. When I asked her if she had brought along something with her, she responded ‘only the clothes she was wearing and a photo’…. In another camp, when I asked another woman the same question about what happened to her, she started trembling and fainted", Gandhi added.

"These are (just) two examples. In Manipur, they (BJP) have murdered Hindustan. Their politics has not killed Manipur but killed Hindustan in Manipur. Hindustan has been murdered in Manipur," he said.

"You are sprinkling kerosene everywhere. You sprinkled kerosene in Manipur and then added fire to it. You are now trying the same thing in Haryana. You are attempting to burn the country everywhere. You are murdering Bharat Mata throughout the country," he said, referring to recent communal clashes in Gurgaon and Nuh.

After Gandhi concluded his speech, Congress MPs started chanted "Rahul… Rahul". BJP members hit back with chants of "Modi… Modi".
Gandhi arrived in the House nearly 10 minutes before it reassembled at noon when he was supposed to speak and was seen going through his notes. He started his speech by thanking Speaker Om Birla for reinstating his membership of the Lower House. "The last time I spoke, I also caused you (Birla) pain. I focused on Adaniji with such intensity, your senior leaders felt pain. That pain also affected you, for that I apologise to you," Gandhi told Mr Birla. "I only spoke the truth. My BJP friends, you need not be afraid because my speech today will not be focused on Adani," he said, and quoted poet Rumi to say "Jo shabd dil se aate hain woh dil mein jaate hain" (Words spoken from the heart appeal to the heart).