vice president Rahul Gandhi spoke in the Lok Sabha yesterday to give a motion of thanks on the presidential address. Here is his full text of speech.
I was listening to Arunji present the Budget yesterday, and in the middle I was startled. Not yesterday, sorry, but day before yesterday. I was shaken like this. He announced a new scheme. Fair and lovely scheme. Under this scheme, any thief in the country can convert black money into white. It doesn't matter where he can pilfer from - through corruption, all his black money.
Arun Jaitley announced this in the House here - "Modiji's fair and lovely scheme is here. You can make your black money white."
Modiji had given a speech in 2014. He had promised that when he came to power he will go after black money and will win the battle against it. Will imprison all who have earned black money. As per the fair and lovely plan, no one will be imprisoned. No one will be arrested. No one will be questioned. Approach Arun Jaitley, pay taxes and convert your black money to white.
What a promise made by Narendra Modi. He promised on the economy. During elections he had said that pulses are sold for Rs 70. The prices will come down when he came to power. Will reduce the burden on women folk - our mothers and sisters. He came. Now pulses sell for Rs 200. Shame.
Petrol used to be $130 per barrel. Today it is Rs 35 per barrel. $35 not rupees, sorry. I am not from the RSS, I make mistakes [on misquoting oil prices]. I do not know everything or understand everything, I make mistakes. I listen to the public, try to understand their plight, and then speak in this House. $133 came down to $35, but not a single rupee was given to the people. Neither to women, sisters and mothers. Big industrialists benefited.
The prime minister had promised employment. 2 crore jobs will be given to India's youth every year, he had said. He created a Babbar Sher [Make in India symbol] out of Make in India. It is a black lion with a clock inside, found everywhere - on internet, TV, Modiji's speech. A stage is burned down, and you can still see the Babbar Sher. All we ask you is that now that you have shown us a Babbar Sher, how many jobs have you created for the youth?
I was looking for data to prepare for the speech. I asked Scindiaji too - How many people got new jobs in one year? No one knows the data. Hence I ask PM Modi to tell the country how many new jobs did you give to Indian youth in the last one year. When I go and ask people if Modiji had delivered on his promise of creating jobs, they reply in the negative.
The prime minister tells the House here that he has never seen a plan as bad as NREGA. MNREGA. Mahatma Gandhi Yojana. Not Savarkar Yojana, Mahatma Gandhi Yojana. Why don't you create your own plan with Savarkar's name?
Modiji stands here and tells us that [NREGA/MNREGA] schemes have destroyed India and will not remove it to let the country know about the mistakes made by the UPA government.
Yesterday, when Arunji was addressing, I thought it was Chidambaramji. They are talking about MNREGA. Arun Jaitley came to me and said that there was no better scheme than MNREGA. I asked, why don't you tell this to your boss - the prime minister of India? Why are you telling me? Tell this to the people outside. He didn't utter a single word. He was silent.
There is a little bit of fear. Narendra Modi is a powerful person. I am speaking well. I know that you all fear him, but you must speak up in front of him.
Modiji spread a web of promises. Then questions begin to arise. First question was asked or raised by Rohith Vemula. He asked what was his fault? He asked - 'Why am I killed for being a Dalit? Why am I being crushed or suppressed? Don't I have a future in India? Don't I have a career just because my mother is poor?'
All that you did was use the power in government to crush him down and he committed suicide. The question is not what your minister asked - whether he was a Dalit or not. The question is why was the life of an Indian youth cut short?
Narendra Modi neither called his mother on the phone, nor talked about it. Not a single word.
Then, Kanhaiya stood up in JNU. I have listened to Kanhaiya's 20 minutes long speech. He did not utter a single word against India in that 20-minute speech. You arrested him. You can sure arrest and prosecute someone who speaks wrong or against the law at JNU. But you have kept them free, and raised questions on JNU.
What is JNU? 60 per cent students in JNU come from Dalit, OBC, backward, minority families.
There's a marked difference between you [BJP government] and us. You claim to know everything and do nothing wrong. We learn from mistakes. We don't claim to know everything. There's Gandhi on one side, and Savarkar on the other. One is for violence, and the other non-violence.
Tell us something. I haven't understood this. I said Gandhiji is ours and Savarkar yours. What's wrong in that? Isn't Savarkar yours? Have you thrown him out? Reply to this. Because if you did so, you did very well.
The family income of 40 per cent of JNU students is less than Rs 6,000. I will tell you why you have gone after JNU and Rohith Vemula. Because they are weak, poor, Dalit and tribals. You do not want India's poor and backward people to progress. We will not let that happen. You will not be able to suppress JNU or the poor people of India.
Where is it written to beat up teachers? Show me a book that JNU students, teachers should be beaten up in court in front of the media? In fact, beat up the media too. Mr Prime Minister, why didn't you utter a single word when the media, students and teachers were beaten up?
After addressing the House in Hindi, Rahul switched to English.
A nation is the relationship between its people. It is nothing but a conversation between its citizens. Destroy the relationships, stop the conversation, and the nation dies.
Speaker madam, .... sorry, sorry, sorry. Chairman Sir, when I salute the flag. I am not saluting the cloth. I am saluting the relationships that the flag represents.
A Muslim man who joins his Hindu brothers to play Holi, or a Hindu man who embraces his Muslim brothers on Eid. A Christian woman who bows her head when she walks past a Gurudwara. A Jat farmer who embraces a Dalit labourer in Haryana. A Punjabi student who protects his brother hailing from the northeast. The relation between Rohith and his fellow students. The relationship between all of us on this side of the aisle, and those of you friends sitting across it. When I protect the flag, I protect the conversations on which those relationships sustain. I protect every single voice, and I pay special attention to the weakest, those voices that are most difficult to hear, that nobody can hear.
Respecting the flag means respecting the opinion of every Indian. When I went to JNU, your ABVP workers waved black flags on my face. They taunted and abused me. I felt no anger. In fact, I was proud that I still live in a country, in an India where it was possible for me to be confronted by people who held a different opinion than my own. I don't agree with their views.
I protected our Indian flag when I let your people wave those black flags in my face. I protected the Indian flag when I allowed them to taunt me. You cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between our people. You are not defending the Indian flag when you frighten your own people into silence. Whose opinion does the prime minister listen to and respects? Does he respect your opinion, your ministers'? You are in silence, I understand. I understand the feeling within you. I want to bring that out, and I want you to make him listen. Anyway, that will happen slowly.
You've been taught by your teachers in the RSS that there is only one truth in the universe. Your own. That nobody else's opinion matters in the entire universe. This is all you have shown us in the last two years. The prime minister cannot run the country only on his opinion.
The country is not the prime minister. The prime minister is not the country.
One day, the prime minister called all the senior opposition leaders and told them that he had achieved what the Congress party couldn't achieve in 40 years. He told the Congress president that he has solved the Nagaland problem, and has signed a historic accord. Congress president panicked. She called me up and asked - 'Rahul, what have they signed? Our chief ministers have not mentioned anything.' She asked us to check with our chief ministers. We called them up. We asked them - have you heard about the Naga accord?
As our esteemed colleagues know that the Naga accord has huge ramifications in the states of Arunachal, Assam and Manipur. Massive tracts of lands in these states are involved. We called them. They had not heard a word about the accord. What had the government signed? They asked us.
According to the media, even though officials in the home ministry and the intelligence bureau had no idea, even the home minister had no idea. Fascinating. I am asking a straightforward question. Did the home minister, Nagaland chief minister know about the accord? Did you tell our chief ministers about the accord? And the most important question: Where has the accord gone now? It has vanished into thin air. Poof, it's gone. Gone with the wind. Bye bye accord.
Is it not an insult to every citizen of those states? Is it not an insult to the institutions and professionals in the home ministry and the intelligence bureau? Is it not an insult to the Indian flag?
Pakistan directly attacked this country in Mumbai on 26/11. They trained and sent killers murderers into Mumbai into the heart of Mumbai. Almost 200 people were murdered and butchered by those people. The operation to stop the terrorists was on. Our soldiers and citizens were dying. The government of India begged the chief minister of Gujarat not to go to Mumbai. The then chief minister of Gujarat decided to go to Mumbai. Did he care? No. He went right ahead to Mumbai. To the Oberoi Hotel itself and disturbed the entire operation. He grabbed his headlines while our people died.
But let us forget that. Mumbai was a horrible, terrible blow to the country. It was a blow to every Indian. The UPA government worked tirelessly to trap Pakistan. We isolated them internationally. We spent thousands and thousands of hours of diplomacy to turn them into pariah nation. We destroyed their reputation internationally and put them into a little diplomatic cage. We convinced the world that they were global supporters of terrorism.
Speaker sir, how did we achieve this? Our prime minister took the advice of everybody - the armed forces, our diplomats, our intelligence people. We had wide ranging conversations with everybody who understands these issues. We spoke to the opposition. We worked tirelessly in Jammu and Kashmir. It is the work that the UPA did there that makes us all really proud. We held Panchayat elections, built thousands of self-help groups, and created thousands of jobs. By the end, we had destroyed the insurgency in Kashmir. We had broken the back of the insurgency. We had achieved the biggest strategic victory against Pakistan, completely peacefully.
What does the prime minister do? He decides to have a cup of tea with Nawaz Sharif. Without any thought, without any vision. Chai par charcha. He decides to make a detour to Pakistan. Just like he did with Nagaland accord, he did not bother ask anyone - armed forces, intelligence people, diplomats, and probably didn't even bother to ask Sushmaji. He just went there as if only his opinion matters.
Speaker Sir, the prime minister single handedly destroyed six years of our work. In one move, he personally let Pakistan out of the little cage. He gifted them a status equal to our own. When stopped over in Pakistan without taking the advice of anyone, the prime minister disrespected our flag. He disrespected those who died in Mumbai adn Pathankot, our bureaucrats, the tremendous talent of Indian people.
There have been others in history who could only see their own perspective. People who saluted the cloth but destroyed the conversations between the people. Milosavic, the president of Yugoslavia, used to salute the flag every morning and talk of patriotism all day long. He broke the relationship between Serbs and Croats, and destroyed his country. Nearer to us in Pakistan, Yahya Khan came to defend the Pakistan flag. As a soldier, he saluted the flag every morning. He actually believed he was protecting it. He thought he was a patriot and refused to listen to his countrymen. He destroyed the relationship between a Punjabi and Bengali and tore his country into two.
The prime minister still has the option to listen to what the country is trying to tell him. The country is gently trying to give him a message. Listen to those around you. Listen to Rajnath Singhji, Advaniji, Sushma Swarajji, to your MPs. Listen to us across the aisle here. We are not your enemies. We don't hate you. Listen to the voice of Indian people - the farmers and workers who have so much wisdom. Especially, listen to the voice of the next generation. They are the future of this country. Allow them the dignity of their voice.