In a stinging counteroffensive against the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday the opposition party had "humiliated" institutions important to democracy like the Army and the CAG. Modi also hit out at the Congress for its continued diatribe against him over the Rafale deal after the Supreme Court's verdict holding there was no wrongdoing.
"If you thought they (the Congress) only had a problem with EC and EVMs, now wait. They have humiliated the Army, CAG and every institution important to our democracy," he said during an interaction with polling booth level BJP workers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry through a video conference from New Delhi.
He was apparently referring to the Congress questioning the veracity of the surgical strikes targeting terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and for contesting the Comptroller and Auditor General's finding of Rs 1.86 lakh crore loss to the exchequer in the coal scam. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had on Sunday lashed out at the Modi government, saying he will not allow "destruction" of institutions like the Supreme Court and the Reserve Bank of India.
The BJP government believes "only one idea should run India", Gandhi had told a public rally organised by his party's southern ally the DMK in Chennai. Referring to the Supreme Court's judgement on the contentious Rafale fighter jet deal, the prime minister said the Congress was opposing it just because it did not like the verdict.
"They (the Congress) questioned an SC verdict just because they did not like the decision. Earlier, just because they could not threaten the court into doing what they wanted, just beacuse the court was being fair, they tried to even impeach the Chief Justice of India," he said.
The Congress had earlier this year moved a notice in Parliament for impeaching the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, seeking his removal on five grounds of "misbehaviour". It was, however, rejected by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on April 23. Responding to a question of a party worker on taking on the Congress over its "false" propaganda, Modi said the perfect answer to "undemocratic behaviour" lay in strengthening democracy.
"Like the sunlight, which is the best disinfectant, information and awareness are important for democracy. Hence, people need to be apprised of the behaviour, attitude and dangerous games of the Opposition, including the Congress. "They will do their best to spread lies but it is in our hands to spread the truth. They will do their best to mislead people but it is in our hands to expose them," he said.
He asked the BJP cadre to tell people that before every election the Congress party started making noise about EVMs to create an atmosphere of doubt. But when results were in their favour, they accepted it. Likening the Congress and opposition parties to a student blaming the school, teacher and examiner if his results were not favourable, Modi said, "The same thing is happening in the case of our opposition, too. This has to be explained to the people."
Hailing people as the greatest force protecting democracy, the prime minister said the last time Congress tried to threaten it, people threw them out of power. He was apparently hinting at the imposition of Emergency by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
"Reach out to people and tell them the Congress' DNA is still the same. Just because Emergency saw a big fightback from the people now they have become more cunning in their tactics. But yet again India will not excuse the Congress for playing with democracy."
Modi asked party workers to increase their public outreach by creating awareness about his "hardworking" government's welfare schemes. "From housing to health care, from sanitation to skills, there are schemes for every section of society," he said and asked booth level workers to reach out to people about those measures.
He said, if people were confused or misinformed, BJP workers could seek the help of the Narendra Modi app to arm themselves with data and information. Emphasising the need for strengthening the party at the polling booth level, Modi said, "Mera booth sabse majboot (strong). After all, the party that wins at the booth level wins the elections....meet (people) them regularly, share their joy, their sorrow and serve them."
He also interacted with beneficiaries of the Centre's Mudra loan scheme and lauded a woman, expressing happiness that she had now become a job giver. Modi asked BJP workers to inform people about how the education sector had undergone a transformation under his government. In the last four years, he said, the focus was broadened from only the outlays to include outcomes.
"Similarly, the earlier approach was only about teaching. Going a step ahead, the government looked at learning. We are improving the quality of education and increasing quantity of opportunities," he said. Modi said the government came up with the National Institutional Ranking Framework for rating institutions based on objective and verifiable criteria.
It was made available separately for streams such as engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, humanities and law. He also talked about the steps taken for setting up branches of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in different states, including Tamil Nadu.
Modi said over 13,000 skill development centres were imparting livelihood training to lakhs of youth in 375 different skills.
(With inputs from agencies.)