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Congress strengthening separatism, has become 'leader of tukde-tukde gang': PM Modi

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New Delhi, Feb 07: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Congress, accusing it of strengthening separatism in the country and becoming the "leader of the tukde-tukde gang" by following the Britisher's policy of "divide and rule".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Replying in Lok Sabha to the debate on Motion of Thanks to President Ram Nath Kovind's address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Modi said the Congress' "arrogance" has not gone away despite multiple electoral defeats and its "misdeeds" seem to indicate that it has made up its mind not to come to power for the next 100 years.

The Prime Minister said the Congress "crossed all limits" during the COVID pandemic and accused them of instigating and scaring innocent labourers into fleeing to their native states. "You have committed a big sin," he added.

Without naming Rahul Gandhi, Modi seized on the Congress leader's speech in the House in which he had said that "India is described in the Constitution as a union of states and not as a nation", and cited India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's enunciation on the country's nationhood to hit out at the opposition party frequently in his nearly 100 minutes of address.

"Nation, for us, is a living soul, not just an arrangement of power or government,” the Prime Minister said and accused the Congress of inciting Tamil sentiments.

He also cited a poem of Subramania Bharathi, renowned Tamil poet and freedom fighter, in praise of India's all-encompassing national identity. He referred to Puranas in this regard and hailed Tamils for the respect they gave to late Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin when his body was being carried through the state. It was an example of pan-India national sentiment, he said. What was said in Parliament was an "insult" to it, he said in reference to Gandhi's speech.

"Divide and rule have become your mindset. The Congress has become the leader of the tukde-tukde gang," he said and added that "they are sowing seeds that will strengthen the roots of separatism."

He noted that people in a number of states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, have kept it out of power for many decades as it got disconnected from the country's roots and grew arrogant.

The Prime Minister, who singled out the Congress for attack over a range of issues -- from its politics to its track record in handling price rise, also criticised briefly the Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party dispensation in the national capital for allegedly encouraging migrant labourers to leave the city during the first wave of COVID-19 when a strict lockdown was imposed nationwide.

Reacting to Modi's criticism, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that "the Prime Minister's statement is completely false...".

During the first wave of COVID, the Congress crossed all limits and committed the "big sin" of prompting migrant workers to leave Mumbai to "spread" the disease in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Modi said, adding that the Delhi government also did it. The infection spread in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab due to this sin, he claimed.

"Your conduct made the country think that you don't consider the country yours. People's 'sukh-dukh' is not yours," he said. The Prime Minister noted that if the BJP loses one election the "ecosystem" goes after it for months and slammed the Congress, saying that after so many defeats, "neither your arrogance goes away, nor your ecosystem allows your arrogance to go away".

While criticism is the ornament of a vibrant democracy, "blind opposition" is an "insult to democracy", he said. Modi said it would have been good if the Opposition would have accepted and welcomed with an open heart whatever the country has achieved by 'Sabka prayas' and asserted that initiatives like "aatmanirbhar Bharat" and boosting start-ups are not done in a partisan manner but are aimed at the country's welfare.

Hitting out at the Congress, Modi said, "Sometimes a thought comes to my mind, with their statements, their programmes, their misdeeds, the way you speak and connect with issues, it seems you have made up your mind of not coming back to power for 100 years. Nobody does this."

"If they had little hope that people would bless them they would not have done so. However, if you have only decided to (not come back to power) for a hundred years, I have also made preparations," he said, drawing cheers from the treasury benches.

When his government talks about being vocal for local, is it not fulfilling the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, he said and added "then, why was it being mocked by the Opposition?" "We talked about Yoga and Fit India but that was mocked by the Opposition too," he said.

He alleged that Congress has lost the desire to come to power and has a philosophy that when one is not getting anything then at least spoil something. H

e asserted that many people have come and gone but the country is immortal. The country has been united and great, is so and will remain so, he said.

The Congress was winning elections since 1971 on the slogan 'eradicate poverty', however, poverty didn't end but people ousted that party, he said and added that people in several states have rejected the party for decades.

"The question is not about elections, it is about intentions. Despite being in power for 50 years, why are the people of the country repeatedly rejecting them? Wherever people have taken the right path, they did not allow you (Congress) to enter again," he said.

The Prime Minister said the way India handled the COVID pandemic is an example for the world. He 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' is the perfect time to think about how India can play a global leadership role in the coming years. Post COVID-19 pandemic, the world is moving fast towards a new world order and India should not miss this opportunity, he said.

The House later passed the motion thanking the President for his address to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on January 31 by a voice vote.

With Gandhi often targeting the Modi government for its alleged proximity to Adani and Ambani groups, the Prime Minister hit back at the opposition for "scaring" industrialists and entrepreneurs.

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