New Delhi, Jun 10: Congress today said the Modi government has "failed" on all fronts except for marketing itself and "polarised" the country, inviting sharp retort from BJP which said it should realise that it was living in different times now and should respect people's mandate.
Taking part in a panel discussion following the release of Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar's book "Achhe Din? Ha! Ha!!", party's General Secretary Digvijay Singh said voters were "taken in" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promises but he had not delivered.
The discussion, which was on the one year of the BJP government, also saw former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav accusing Congress and other "so-called" secular parties of practicing "fraudulent secularism" which kept the minorities "hostage".
Modi's strengths come from a Congress which believes Nehru-Gandhi family is an ideology and opportunistic alliances like the one between JD(U) and RJD, he said. Sheshadri Chari of BJP hit back at Singh, saying Congress leaders behaved as if they were still living in 1975.
"I wonder how you got 44 seats. You should have got much less," he said, taking a dig at the Opposition party over its worst- ever electoral performance in last year's Lok Sabha polls. "Modi government has succeeded in marketing itself and has polarised the country.
On every front from economic growth to jobs and other promises, it has not delivered," Singh said. Yadav said the constitutional vision of India came under "great distress" in the first year of the government and warned that the rise of leaders like MIM's Asaduddin Owaisi, especially among Muslims, was neither good for Muslims nor the country.
TMC MP Sugata Bose said his party dealt with the government on the merits of an issue and termed the land ordinance as the Centre's "biggest blunder" which it will "resolutely oppose". CPI(M)'s Nilotpal Basu said there has a resurgence of the right but it cannot sustain.
The debate also saw some heat when Rakesh Sinha of RSS accused Singh of linking the Hindutva organisation with Mumbai terror attack, an allegation strongly refuted by the Congress leader. Owaisi said the Modi regime had done little to bring justice in cases in which Hindutva elements were charged.
JD(U) MP Pavan Varma said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had joined hands with bitter rival and RJD chief Lalu Prasad for a common goal. The book, which has a collection of Aiyar's articles and published by Palimpsest, was released by former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
A bitter Modi critic, Aiyar said he spoke to over 20 Cabinet ministers to invite them to the event but none of them agreed "fearing their head would be chopped off" in the first Cabinet reshuffle if they turned up.