In his first remarks on the new Opposition alliance, announced a week ago, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi described it as “directionless” on Tuesday. The PM likened the Opposition alliance, whose acronym is INDIA, to the English East India Company, the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, and the Popular Front of India, which the Centre banned last year.
Modi said organisations that wanted to rule and break the country, those that wanted to divide it, have used names like ‘India’ and ‘Indian’ to mislead people. The PM said people cannot be misled merely by using the country’s name.
The 26-party Opposition alliance announced its new name, Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, or INDIA, in Bengaluru on July 18. Several constituents of INDIA, including the Congress, said the PM should speak on the ethnic unrest in Manipur rather than calling it names.
“Call us whatever you want, Mr Modi. We are India. We will help heal Manipur and wipe the tears of every woman and child. We will bring back love and peace for all her people,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha (LS), replying to a short debate on the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, that he has written to the leaders of the Opposition in the two Houses that the government was ready for a discussion on the Manipur issue for as long as they want.
The LS passed the Bill. Amid a walkout by Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) demanding a discussion on Manipur, the Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2022, to include half a dozen communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh. The state goes to polls in November-December. The LS passed it in December 2022.
Earlier in the day, Opposition sources said they would bring a no-confidence motion against the government in the LS during the ongoing monsoon session. Such a motion would be symbolic as the government has a comfortable majority in the LS but allows the Opposition to discuss the government’s performance.
Amid logjam over Manipur, Opposition bloc INDIA is likely to submit a no-confidence motion notice against the government in LS on Wednesday.
Opposition protests, however, continued on Tuesday, demanding that the PM make a statement on the situation in Manipur inside Parliament. Some Opposition MPs had sat on an overnight dharna inside the Parliament premises to protest the suspension of Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party meeting in the morning, the PM, according to party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, said, “I have never seen such a directionless Opposition.” He also said that the Opposition has sunk deep in despair, and its conduct suggests it has reconciled to remaining in Opposition for a long time.
The PM said it was a “new dawn” for India, and there was optimism about the country globally. The Indian economy has grown to be the fifth-largest under his government and will be the third-biggest in its third term, Modi said.
According to a PTI report, the PM said even the Indian National Congress, the main Opposition party, was named by an Englishman, A O Hume.
In a video released by the Congress, party chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the alliance’s name, INDIA, had rattled the PM.
“They are aligned with the ideology that helped the East India Company and the British. They did not participate in the Quit India movement and the freedom movement. And the people of the ideology that killed Mahatma Gandhi are telling us that we are directionless. We are not directionless, we show the way. Modi has become directionless,” he said.
The Opposition had earlier alleged that Kharge’s microphone was shut off, and he was not allowed to complete his point that the PM should speak in Parliament on Manipur.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal said atrocities on women in Opposition-ruled states would also be discussed in the House. Goyal said the Union home minister is ready to discuss the issues related to atrocities on women in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and West Bengal.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha passed the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill and The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill. The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, passed the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Fifth Amendment) Bill.