Narendra Modi says shun notion of political untouchability, Cong leader mocks PM’s speech
Prahlad Rao | July 17, 2015 | New Delhi
Today is the day of loaded political discourse that can also serve as lessons to politicians. While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi remained stuck to the rhetorical mud-slinging, prime minister Narendra Modi seesawed between statesmanship and mockery.
Addressing a gathering in Jammu at the birth centenary of Girdhari Lal Dogra, who was finance minister Arun Jaitley's father-in-law, Modi rejected the notion of political untouchability and asserted that India's heritage cannot be divided on ideological lines.
He said all political leaders of the past deserve our respect because they worked for the betterment of our nation.
Paying tribute to Dogra, who also was J&K’s finance minister, the prime minister said that he (Dogra) came into public life with an inspiration of patriotism. He said the very fact that Dogra presented as many as 26 budgets, indicated his acceptability in politics; and expertise and dedication to the task at hand.
Referring to the exhibition on Dogra that was inaugurated by him, the prime minister said it was remarkable that none of his family members was visible in any of the photographs. He said this is a message for leaders in public life today. "It is a difficult task. It is not easy. Everybody wants to do something for his relatives," he said.
In a lighter vein, Modi said the Congress leader must have had a great understanding of human beings and "that is why he chose a son-in-law like Arun Jaitley". He said that despite being the son-in-law of the late Congress leader, Jaitley held on to his own political beliefs and never used his father-in-law's clout.
"Otherwise we all know what embarrassment sons-in-law have become for their in-laws nowadays," said Modi, taking a dig at Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra. He didn't name Robert Vadra.
"Today in politics, there is a need to ensure that our heritage is not divided. This is a matter of concern," the PM said, amid a tussle among political parties to claim the legacy of various national leaders.
His remarks came after Congress leader in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said Dogra was "24 carat Congressman", who never "compromised with regionalism, casteism and communalism".
Modi said public life cannot run by judging a person on the basis of his political party, ideology or leadership.
"There should not political untouchability. Everybody in public life works with certain ideology but he lives and dies for the nation. We should be proud of them and have equal regard for anybody who has worked and died for the nation, irrespective of their political ideologies and affiliations.
On the other hand, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stepped up attack on Narendra Modi over the land acquisition bill, saying the PM’s ‘56-inch chest’ would soon reduce to a size of 5.6 inches.
Modi had declared at a rally in Uttar Pradesh that “a 56-inch chest” was a pre-requisite to convert India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh into one as developed as Gujarat.
“The farmers, Congress and people of India will turn the ‘56-inch chest’ into a 5.6-inch chest, you will see,” Gandhi said while addressing party workers in Jaipur on Friday. “We won’t give a single inch of land,” the Congress vice-president said.
“Now that he has become the PM, why would he be concerned about farmers? He made several promises, but they were all empty ones,” Gandhi added. “I liked the film Lagaan. In the movie, the farmers were disunited, but then they got together and protested against tax,” he said.
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