Vote of Thanks Debate: Rich India, Poor India; The center vision is of a king with a staff, won’t work, says Rahul
THE government has created two Indies, one for the rich and one for the poor, and its vision of the country is more that of a “king”, who uses a staff to rule, rather than that of “negotiation and conversation”. as has been the nation’s tradition and 3,000-year history, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Gandhi’s scathing response during the debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s address touched on a range of issues: from silence on jobs in the budget speech to what he called the decimation of small and medium industry with the concentration of capital in the hands of “AA”, (a reference to Ambani and Adani); the “capture” of the institutions, to the point of the Centre’s refusal to listen to the States.
“There are two competing visions of India…If you read the Constitution, you will find that India is described as a Union of States. India is not portrayed as a nation, it is portrayed as a Union of States,” he said. He said that means people in all states should have the same rights.
“You think you can suppress languages, cultures, histories (of states). You have no idea of the story, no idea what you’re dealing with,” he said. Citing one example, he said, “People of Tamil Nadu have the idea of Tamil Nadu, the idea of the Tamil language in their hearts, and then also the idea of India.”
“There are two visions: one is a union of states, languages, cultures, a bouquet of beautiful flowers that can defy any power in the world… There is another vision: a centralizing vision , the vision of a king, the idea of a king that Congress removed in 1947… The idea of a king came back, that there is a king, a shehenshah, a ruler of rulers, a master of masters,” he said.
“Because of this mistaken view, the instruments of conversation between our states, between our peoples, what we call the institutions of our country, are being attacked and captured by one India,” he said. Citing examples, he mentioned the NEET issue in Tamil Nadu and farmers’ protests in Punjab, saying they “have no voice in your frame”. “Only the king has a voice,” he said.
It is this “confused understanding” of the nation that “takes its toll”, Gandhi said. “The Judiciary, the Election Commission, Pegasus – these are all instruments… the voice of the Union of States,” he said. “When you apply Pegasus to an Indian politician…when the…personally goes to Israel and authorizes the use of Pegasus in India, he attacks the people of Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Bengal western,” he said.
“My fear is that this attack you are making on the institutional framework will get a response from the Union of States… My great-grandfather (Nehru) was in prison for 15 years, my grandmother (Indira Gandhi ) was shot in the trunk 32 times, my father (Rajiv Gandhi) was shattered. I know what it is… You are playing with something very dangerous,” he said.
He cited an alleged incident of “insulting” a delegation from Manipur to the residence of Home Minister Amit Shah, saying that “it represents the idea of the Union of States versus the idea of a king”. “A few days ago a political leader came to me from Manipur and he was very agitated…He said he had never felt so insulted…He said a delegation of political leaders from Manipur was went to see the Minister of the Interior. In front of his house, they were told to take off their shoes. When they entered they saw that the Home Secretary was wearing his chappals,” he claimed.
When members of the Treasury benches protested, the former Congress leader said the Manipur leader showed him photographs.
Gandhi started his speech by saying that the president’s speech omitted some “fundamental issues”. He said, “There is only one India now. An India is for the extremely rich, for those with immense wealth, immense power, for those who don’t need jobs, for those who don’t need water or electricity connections. electricity, but which control the heartbeat of the country.
He said there was another India for the poor, where “there are no jobs”. “Does Hindustan ban gaye hate. Ek amiron ka Hindustan aur doosra garibon ka Hindustan. Aur in do Hindustanon ke beech khai barhti jaa rahi hai. (There are two Indies. One, an India of the rich and the other, an India of the poor. And the gap between these two Indies is widening),” he said.
He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work towards bringing the “two Indies” closer together.
“All Indian youth are looking for jobs but the government is unable to solve this problem,” he said. He said 3 million young people lost their jobs in 2021 – the highest in 50 years.
Emphasizing that “jobs are generated by small and medium industries, the informal sector,” he said, demonetization, flawed GST implementation and failure to support the poor during the pandemic, had “destroyed” the small and medium sector which was supposed to be the engine of the Make in India program.
On the other hand, he said, the government has created “monopolies” in the formal sector. He pointed to the presence of the Adani Group in several sectors, including airports, ports, gas distribution and energy.