Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit out at the Congress in the Lok Sabha, capitalising on the drawbacks of the latter's long periods of rule since Independence. He pinpointed issues like public toilets, rural electrification and social welfare schemes like MGNREGA and said it was because the Congress's work did not meet the targets that it his government had to take up the responsibility of doing some real service to the country.
Top Congress leaders like Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were visibly upset with Modi's verbal onslaught, which invited claps from his fellow partymen. Rahul Gandhi was even seen missing towards the later part of the speech.
The prime minister also played it cleverly by quoting former Congress PMs like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi while making his speech.
This onslaught was a well-calculated one by the ruling party. The Congress has been trying to corner the BJP-led government over issues like JNU fiasco, Jat protests, Smriti Irani episode and taxing the EPF in this year's Budget. On Wednesday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused the government as a one-man show and criticised it over the EPF tax issue.
Modi decided to reply to the Opposition's attack by speaking on each point. It was a contest that the Congress was bound to find tough. The grand-old party of Indian politics has ruled the country for 60 years since Independence and that means the anti-incumbency mood against it remains strong always, even after elections. Modi cleverly raked up this point and there is little credible defence on the part of the Congress to counter this.
The prime minister also used quots of the Congress's own PMs against the latter, something which it also find difficult to debate.
The problem with the Congress is that it lacks a leader who can match the PM's oratory skills to corner his government. Rahul Gandhi has fallen very short of that task even if he had enough reasons to script a turnaround for the Congress after almost two years of Modi's rule.
But still it is Modi who is speaking and Congress is listening.