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Gogoi tears into govt on Manipur, BJP asks why Rahul didn’t speak


New Delhi: The Lok Sabha witnessed fireworks between the Opposition and treasury benches early Tuesday as Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi initiated the debate on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government, instead of Rahul Gandhi.

In his remarks, Gogoi launched a blistering attack on the Modi government, questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “maun vrat (silence)” on Manipur. 

The Modi government, “which talked of creating one India, has created two Manipurs — one living in the Hills (Kuki-dominated) and the other in the Valley (Meitei-dominated)”, he said, referring to the ongoing Kuki-Meitei ethnic clashes in the northeastern state. 

He said the Opposition INDIA alliance had to bring the no-confidence motion against the government to break PM Modi’s silence. 

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP questioned eight non-Congress Opposition parties supporting the no-confidence motion, pointing to instances where the Congress had “done them wrong” as well as those where the BJP had supported them.

“None of you will survive 2024 (elections),” said BJP MP Nishikant Dubey. “We will come back with over 400 seats.” 

Earlier, there was a showdown between the Opposition and treasury benches, just before Gogoi started his remarks.

When the MP was about to speak, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi got up to know the reason why Rahul Gandhi’s name was withdrawn as the lead speaker at the last minute.

Gogoi’s reply that they (Opposition) “never ask for the remarks made by PM Modi in Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s chamber be revealed” drew protests from the treasury benches, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah saying Gogoi could not make unsubstantiated claims about the PM.

Congress MP Gogoi initiated the no-confidence motion to force PM Modi to make a statement in Parliament on the Manipur situation. While the numbers are firmly in the Modi government’s favour, the Opposition has described the motion as a “battle of perceptions”. 

Modi has so far only spoken about Manipur once, late last month, where — speaking outside Parliament — he addressed the clashes in light of a viral video showing two women being paraded naked in the state. This was nearly 3 months after the violence began.

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‘Why has the PM not sacked Manipur CM?’

Gogoi said it was not just Manipur, but PM Narendra Modi had been silent when award-winning wrestlers were protesting in the Capital (against alleged sexual harassment by BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh), when the farmers were agitating against the now-withdrawn farm laws that his government brought, the 2020 Delhi riots, and when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi spoke against Adani in Parliament.   

He also put forth three questions for Modi. “We have three questions for the PM. First, why did he not visit Manipur so far? Second, why did it take him 80 days to speak on Manipur, and that too for 30 seconds? And, third, why has the PM not sacked the Manipur CM so far?” Gogoi asked. 

Continuing in the same vein, he said, “Be it in Gujarat, Uttarakhand or Tripura, you have changed the chief minister just before elections. Why are you not acting now? What special message are you giving in Manipur where the CM has himself admitted that there has been an intelligence failure?” 

Gogoi said the PM is silent because he knows his double-engine government has failed in Manipur. 

“Manipur demands justice. Martin Luther King Jr had said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. If Manipur is burning, the whole of India is burning, if Manipur is divided, the country is divided,” Gogoi said. “It was our demand that, as the leader of the country, Prime Minister Modi should come to the House and speak about Manipur…”

Highlighting the atrocities suffered by the people in Manipur, Gogoi said women and children had borne the brunt. 

“We went with a delegation of Opposition leaders… we met the family of an 80-year-old freedom fighter, who was burnt alive.”

Referring to the viral video of the two women who were paraded naked, Gogoi said the PM would have stayed silent had the video not gone viral.

He also accused the office of CM N. Biren Singh of involvement with the drug mafia. “You talk of poppy farming… The narcotics bureau of the state has said that the land under poppy cultivation has increased to 15,400 acres between 2017 and 2023. It was your government, which was in power in the state,” he said. 

After a protest from the Opposition parties over “achievements of the government” being run on the scroll of Sansad TV during the live telecast, it was the BJP’s turn to speak. 

Responding to the disruption from the Opposition benches, Union minister Pralhad Joshi said, “This type of insecurity feeling should not be there (in the Opposition).”

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey questioned eight major Opposition parties about their support for the no-confidence motion.

“The biggest party here is the DMK. I respect Karunanidhi ji. In 1976, on the charges of corruption, Congress dismissed Karunanidhi’s government,” he said. 

Dubey noted that DMK MP Dayanidhi Maran was sent to jail over the alleged 2G scam by the Congress government and “you are against us?”

He sought to remind the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress of the BJP’s support during their agitation against the proposed Tata plant in West Bengal’s Singur in the early 2000s. 

“Rajnath Singh ji, our party chief (at the time), went to support you in the Singur agitation. We also have some contribution in your government formation. You should be opposing them and not us,” he said. 

Taking a jibe at Lalu Prasad’s RJD, Dubey said, “The person who has made Lalu ji’s son a deputy chief minister was the one standing against him. In 1995, it was the Congress government that sent Lalu ji to jail. (JDU MP) Lalan Singh was a petitioner in the case. Why are you opposing us, you should be opposing the Congress.”

Other parties that featured in Dubey’s attack included the Samajwadi party, Nationalist Congress Party, and J&K National Conference.

Among the Opposition leaders, Sonia Gandhi also fell on Dubey’s radar. He attacked her for allegedly trying to “settle her son” and helping her son-in-law Robert Vadra in his business during the UPA’s tenures. 

“Sonia ji is sitting here. I respect her. She has to do two things. Bete ko set karna and damaad ko bhaint karna hai (son has to be settled and son-in-law has to be given gifts),” said Dubey, to which Sonia also laughed before the Opposition started protesting. 

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

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