New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on Wednesday at his sarcastic best as he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a host of issues ranging from his policies on Pakistan and black money to the JNU row and the Nagaland accord.
Speaking amid thumping of desks by Congress MPs and incessant booing from the treasury benches, Gandhi spoke both in Hindi and English to accuse Modi of disrespecting Indian interests by going to Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif without consulting even his ministers.
"Pakistan directly attacked this country in Mumbai. They trained and sent killers into Mumbai. And what does the PM do? He decides to go to Pakistan and have a cup of tea with Nawaz Sharif, without any vision," Gandhi said in a 31-minute speech in the Lok Sabha punctuated with witty remarks.
Modi, Gandhi alleged, let Pakistan “out of the little cage” it had been put in after the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 which left 166 Indians and foreigners dead.
"He destroyed six years of our hard work. He gifted them (Pakistan) a status and put them out of the cage we had put them in," Gandhi said. "He disrespected the national flag, those who died in Mumbai, those who died in Pathankot, the talent of our bureaucrats (whom he did not consult)."
Looking at the BJP benches, Gandhi said Modi did not share his Lahore visit of December 25 with even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The remark drew loud protests from BJP MPs.
Gandhi went on: “The PM has to listen to others. Listen to Rajnath Singhji, Sushma Swarajji, Advaniji… Listen to your MPs. We don't hate you. Listen to your own people, listen to the voice of next generation.”
The prime minister was not in the house when Gandhi spoke.
The Congress vice president appeared unruffled despite the repeated attempts to interrupt him. At one stage, he looked at the BJP MPs, smiled and said: "Bolne do bhai."
Gandhi accused Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of going back on their election pledge and helping the rich to convert their black money into white.
"Nobody who has black money will be jailed under Modi's 'Fair and Lovely' scheme," he said, sparking laughter. "All those who have black money can make it white under this scheme."
Gandhi, taking part in a discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address to parliament, was referring to Jaitley's amnesty scheme on black money.
Pointing out that Modi had in 2014 vowed to jail those with black money, he said Modi had also failed to bring back black money stashed abroad.
Gandhi pulled up Modi for not speaking to the mother of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula after his suicide in Hyderabad -- and his silence on the issue as well as the attacks on JNU students and journalists at a Delhi court last month.
Gandhi said he heard the entire speech of now jailed JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar. "Not a word was anti-national."
The Congress leader also attacked Modi for signing a peace pact with the NSCN without consulting Home Minister Rajnath Singh and chief ministers of Nagaland and neighbouring states.
Where is the accord now, Gandhi asked. "It has vanished into thin air."
When BJP members interrupted him, Gandhi hit back saying he made mistakes "because I am not from the RSS".
"I don't know everything. I listen to the people, then speak."
In contrast, he alleged, that those with the RSS do not bother about others' views. "The country is not the PM, the PM is not the country," he added.