Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are in yet another political war of words.
In Parliament, the two took direct and indirect potshots at each other, giving ample room for creative interpretation of what these remarks could have meant.
Here’s a lowdown on what Rahul Gandhi said, and how Narendra Modi replied to his opponent’s questions / statements.
(All statements have been taken from news reports of the speeches of the two politicians.)
RaGa vs NaMo
Round 1: Pet Projects
RaGA chooses Make in India
He taunted the Prime Minister saying, that the latter “created a Babbar Sher out of Make in India... A stage is burned down, and you can still see the Babbar Sher. All we ask you is that now that you have shown us a Babbar Sher, how many jobs have you created for the youth?”
But, he also said this: “Yesterday, when Arunji was addressing, I thought it was Chidambaramji. They are talking about MNREGA. Arun Jaitley came to me and said that there was no better scheme than MNREGA. I asked, why don't you tell this to your boss - the prime minister of India? Why are you telling me? Tell this to the people outside. He didn't utter a single word. He was silent.”
He made light of the BJP’s praise of VD Savarkar, telling the Prime Minister that if he did not like the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, he should create his own plan in Savarkar’s name. He returned to Savarkar later in the speech, asking why members of BJP took umbrage to him saying that “Gandhiji is ours and Savarkar is yours... Isn't Savarkar yours? Have you thrown him out? Because if you did so, you did very well.
NaMo chose MGNREGA
“We have brought the country to such a level that even skilled labour is happy being an unskilled labour,” he said. If we had managed to remove poverty in the past 60 years, then the poor would not have to carry mud on their heads. It is not a sign of success.
Quoting former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Modi said, “In 1974, Indira Gandhiji said that we should not portray our nation as weak. Why do we want to portray the image of India as if we have a begging bowl in our hands?”
Round 2: Governance
RaGa chooses foreign policy
On the Naga accord of August 2015, RaGa said the Prime Minister didn’t take onboard stakeholder Chief Ministers. “Where has the accord gone now? It has vanished into thin air. Poof, it's gone. Gone with the wind. Bye bye accord.”
Rahul Gandhi accused the Prime Minister of ruining the UPA’s work of six years in isolating Pakistan in international public opinion, by dropping in for tea with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Chai par charcha. He decides to make a detour to Pakistan... he did not bother to ask anyone... He just went there as if only his opinion matters.”
Narendra Modi goes philosophical:
“Some people get older, but their understanding doesn’t mature. The Opposition finds it hard to understand how we are doing a better job than them.”
Round 3: Opposition and cooperation
RaGa goes into election mode:
Rahul went hammer and tongs on the economics. On the black money issue, he described them as “Modiji’s fair and lovely scheme... You can make your black money white.” He reminded the Prime Minister of his election promises. He said that the Prime Minister had promised, when the price of pulses were Rs. 70, to bring down prices if he was elected. “Now pulses sell for Rs 200. Shame.”
NaMo acts the statesman:
Quoting former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul’s father, the PM said: “House is a place where debates are to take place, but if boundaries are maintained during a debate then it is fruitful”. Parliamentary disruption, he argued, is counter-productive, since it does not let lawmakers, representing the voices of the people, be heard. Unfortunately, he said, political parties feel disruption or adjournment help in highlighting issues. “Let us work side by side,” he said.
Round 4: JNU /Nationalism
RaGa goes ‘I love my India’
“I will tell you why you have gone after JNU and Rohith Vemula. Because they are weak, poor, Dalits and tribals. You do not want India's poor and backward people to progress.”
He argued that respecting the nation was really about respecting the people. “Chairman Sir, when I salute the flag. I am not saluting the cloth. I am saluting the relationships that the flag represents... You cannot defend the Indian flag by destroying the relationships between our people. You are not defending the Indian flag when you frighten your own people into silence.”
NaMo goes into teacher mode:
Asserting that anyone has the right to question him, he said, “But there are some people who cannot be asked questions, and even if you ask them questions they do not answer.”
Now comes the Russian history lesson: "Russian PM Nikita Khrushchev used to criticize Stalin after his death. A young man once asked him - 'Why are you criticizing Stalin? What did you do when he was alive and you worked with him?' He told the person —'You have got the answer? What you are able to do now, I wanted to but couldn't during Stalin's time'."
Yes, it takes a while to understand. Moral of the story: he’s implying he’s allowing people to question him.
(All statements attributed to Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi have been taken from news reports. However, they have been juxtaposed in a satirical manner.)