'Bhagidar not chowkidar': Rahul attacks and then hugs Modi during No Confidence Motion
“Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of the truth,” a combative Rahul Gandhi told the rattled treasury benches after they created ruckus over his allegations on Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading to adjournment of the Lok Sabha debating the no-confidence motion against the NDA government.
Having earlier dared the prime minister for a 15-minute debate in the Parliament, which Rahul claimed the former would not be able to withstand, the Congress President did manage to make Modi and BJP jittery with his scathing attack over their policies. However, what took everyone by surprise was Rahul walking down the treasury benches to embrace the PM after his speech, which is easily the defining moment of the day.
Not having found an opportunity to take on Modi over his policies and decisions in previous Parliament sessions, Rahul launched one of the sharpest attacks on the prime minister, cheered by Congress MPs who thumped their desks in joy. It been a while since a Congress leader spoke with such aggression while taking on Modi and BJP.
Rahul began with a reference to a 21st century political weapon which he called a jumla strike. He first began with Modi's 2014 poll promise of depositing Rs 15 lakh in everyone's accounts which he called jumla no. 1.
Yet again raising the report of exponential rise in the income of a firm owned by BJP President Amit Shah's son, Rahul said, “The prime minister had said that I am nation's chowkidar and will protect it. However, when the son of a friend of the prime minister registers 16,000 times growth, the prime minister did not say a word.”
Thereafter, the Congress president accused the prime minister of colluding with top industrialists and working for them while ignoring the farmers and the poor of the nation. “Prime Minister's photo appears in Jio's advertisement which suggests that he helps these forces,” he added.
Rahul went on to attack the prime minister over the secrecy maintained by the Union defence minister over the details of the Rafale deal. Accusing the defence minister of speaking untruth over the price of Rafale jets, the 48-year-old leader claimed that the French president during a meeting informed him that there was no such secrecy clause. “He told me that there is no such clause and I should tell it to the entire nation.”
He then claimed that the defence minister under pressure from the prime minister had lied to the nation. “The prime minister and defence minister should clarify to the nation over who they are supporting?” he asked. His allegations led to the defence minister protesting to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan who promised to give her time after Rahul's speech.
Further taking digs at the prime minister's “close relationship” with big business houses, the Congress president said how one such businessman benefited to the tune of Rs 45,000 crore in Rafale deal after the contract was taken away from HAL and given to his firm. “A businessmen who has not built a single airplane in his life and has a debt of ₹35000Cr was given the Rafale deal because of his relationship with PM. I have told the truth about the Prime Minister, and now he can't even meet my eye. He is not a 'Chowkidar', he is a 'Bhagidar',” he said.
Continuing the barrage of attacks, Rahul then raised questions over prime minister's foreign policy and his government's decision to waive off loans rich businessmen and not that of poor farmers. Raising the issue of women safety in wake of reports of rapes from across the country, Gandhi said that for the first time in history, India's reputation is the worst in the world and blamed the prime minister for failing to protect India's women.
Gandhi further added how Modi and Shah belong to a different category of politicians who can't afford to lose power. “If they do, other processes will begin. This fear is making them angry,” he said while adding how BJP lawmakers had congratulated him during the break when the house was adjourned. In the end, Rahul thanked Modi, BJP and RSS for teaching him the real meaning of being an Indian and a Hindu.
Rahul's speech is certainly one of his best in the Lok Sabha which could further help in cementing his position as the leader of a united opposition in the run up to 2019 polls. His damning attack should inspire the opposition that was further stumped when the Amethi MP hugged the prime minister who got a taste of his own medicine considering his habit of hugging world leaders.
The first round of the no-confidence debate belonged to Rahul but the Prime Minister, who is expected to use this opportunity to launch his 2019 campaign, is yet to speak. It remains to be be seen whether he can win the perception battle which, for now, seems to be in favour of the Congress president.