The blame game over Parliament disruption escalated to a new level altogether today with both the Congress and the BJP attacking each other with sharp remarks. While the Congress said that the time had come for PM Modi and the BJP to "repent and apologise", the BJP once again reminded the grand old party of the emergency period during former prime minister Indira Gandhi's regime.
BJP president Amir Shah, who staged a sit-in at Hubballi, Karnataka, to protest the recent washout of the Budget Session of Parliament, accused the Congress of dividing the nation and the society. Shah, on the sixth round of his campaigning in poll-bound Karnataka, was joined by BJP's chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa, MPs Prahlad Joshi and Rajeev Chandrasekhar, former chief minister Jagadish Shettar and other senior party functionaries.
Terming Parliament as the "temple of democracy" and "biggest panchayat in democracy", Shah alleged that because of the stand taken by the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha could not function.
Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, Shah said the logjam in Parliament for 22 days led to a loss of Rs 250 crore. Usually the government runs away from a debate, but here the opposition was unwilling to discuss important issues, he said. The BJP chief said the government was ready for a discussion but the opposition ran away from it, because "the Congress did not have the guts to discuss (issues)".
"We said we are ready to even discuss the no-confidence motion (if it was brought), because their no-confidence could not have done anything as the people of this country have confidence in Narendra Modi," he said.
Alleging that the Congress did not believe in democracy, Shah said, "Rahul baba is going around everywhere speaking about democracy. It looks like some NGO has handed over to him the word democracy."
"Rahul baba, go through your party's history," he said, recalling the Emergency under "his grandmother Indira Gandhi".
"You come and preach us about democracy, while you had kept democracy imprisoned inside your home," he said, as he launched a sharp attack on the Congress.
"Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi...., (after that) we don't know which Gandhi next. Doesn't anyone else have credibility in this country," he said.
Shah alleged that there was no internal democracy in the Congress party. "The Congress cannot protect democracy in this country," he said.
Accusing the Congress of toppling other governments through "conspiracy" whenever it was out of power, he said by hiring a foreign company, "some people had obtained data on castes".
Asserting that the people clearly understood the Congress and its tactics, Shah listed out the states where BJP has gained after the 2014 parliamentary election win.
"It is Karnataka's turn now. The people of the state have made up their mind to form a BJP government under the leadership of Yeddyurappa (in the May 12 polls)," he said. Shah told Gandhi that the kind of politics which attempts to divide the society, shut the voice of democracy, and not allow the Houses to function, would not continue for long.
"You may be thinking where will the BJP speak by not allowing the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to function. We have come directly to the people as in democracy the people are supreme. We have come to the people's court," he said.
Reacting to fasts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and other BJP leaders, senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma had earlier in the day demanded that Parliament be reconvened to discuss key issues, saying time has come for Modi and the BJP to "repent and apologise" to the people instead of indulging in "theatrics of farcical fast".
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said, "Facing imminent defeat in (the elections) Karnataka in May this year and in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, Modi and Shah are enacting an absurd drama of photo-ops and headline management."
The Congress had earlier accused the BJP of orchestrating disruptions in Parliament through smaller parties and not allowing debates on key issues.