Mumbai, June 26 (IANS) The Congress’ Maharashtra unit on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misleading the nation” by claiming to have started Constitution day celebrations first time under his leadership.
Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said that the Maharashtra government had initiated Constitution Day celebrations way back 10 years ago by issuing a government order on November 24, 2008.
“Since then, for the past nine years, Constitution Day is being celebrated in Maharashtra in a big way government, semi-government, local bodies and all schools and colleges,” he said in a sharp rebuttal to Modi.
Earlier this morning, at a public meeting, Modi said that as Gujarat Chief Minister, he initiated Constitution Day celebrations at all levels in the state.
He also recounted how, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Constitution, he had ordered a huge replica of the Constitution, mounted it on an elephant and he (Modi) led the procession as a mark of respect to the Constitution in Ambaji Temple.
“The Congress never made a big huge-and-cry nor converted it into celebration ‘event’, but it was done solemnly by conducting readings, taking out yatras and bestowing respect to the Constitution,” Vikhe-Patil said.
Hitting out at Modi, he said that the country is confronted with issues like unemployment, economy in doldrums, banking sector in disarray, zooming petrol-diesel prices, sliding Rupee, businesses collapsing, farmers suicides increasing and worsening situation in Jammu & Kashmir, but Modi “instead of discussing the government’s promises of ‘achhe din’ or the burning issues of the past four years, he has chosen to speak about something four decades old…
“Instead of ‘achhe din’, the people of the country have witnessed only ‘jumlas’,” Vikhe-Patil said.
Lashing out at the PM, Maharashtra Congress President Ashok Chavan said “a person who has created an ‘undeclared Emergency-like’ situation, has no moral right to rant about democracy and Constitution.”
“In the past four years of the BJP rule, the Dalits, minorities and tribals are being held hostage, atrocities against them are increasing, journalists, intellectuals and writers are being killed blatantly. Anybody speaking out against the government policies are condemned as ‘traitors’, restrictions have been imposed on what to eat and wear,” he said.
People are being killed in the name of cows, all constitutional institutions have been subverted, and in order to divert peoples’ attention from all this, the BJP has organized a ‘Black Day’ although the country is experiencing a dark period in the past four years of (BJP) rule, he added.
Chavan asked Modi not to forget that the late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were beacons of democracy which was the reason “a tea-vendor could become the PM today.”
“Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief K. Sudarshan had appreciated Indira Gandhi as the tallest ever leader in the country, while another ex-RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras and Atal Behari Vajpayee had tendered written apologies and endorsed the government’s 20-point programme then. Even BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy has himself said this, so the BJP-RSS leaders have no right to speak about Emergency,” he said.
Modi’s speech here on Tuesday has evoked similar angry reactions from the other central and state Congress leaders across India.