After an unexplained absence of 56 days, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi made a strong comeback in Parliament on Monday by calling the NDA government a “suit-boot ki sarkar”, and advising PM Narendra Modi to “go to the farmers” and “see for himself” the damage caused by unseasonal rains.
Rahul’s 20-minute speech, in the form of an intervention during a debate on the “agrarian situation in the country “, saw multiple interruptions from BJP MPs stung by a series of barbs directed at the NDA government.
At one point, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had to implore MPs from his party to stay calm and let the Congress leader continue.
“Let me give the PM an advice. Why doesn’t he go and see for himself how much damage the farmers are facing? Wherever people are in pain, people are in difficulties, why doesn’t he go there and speak to them? The wheat stock is lying in the markets because the government is not taking it…you are kicking the farmers away whenever they are asking for fertilisers,” Rahul said.
Compared to the aggressive nature of his speech at the farmers’ rally on Sunday, Rahul appeared more relaxed and spontaneous this time. He laced his speech, delivered in a mix of Hindi and English, with punchlines, deliberate pauses and a mocking tone that appeared to rattle the ruling coalition.
“If he (Modi) understands political calculations, why is he making the 67 per cent of the population angry? I thought he was a pragmatic man,” he said.
Rahul was even seen winking at the agitated Treasury benches, with his Congress colleagues erupting in laughter at many of his remarks.
For instance, his repeated reference to “your PM” drew loud protests from the BJP benches who insisted that he refer to Modi has “our PM”. Rahul shot back: “He is the country’s PM, true. But does that not make him your PM as well? Do you not want me call him your PM? Is he not your PM?”
Taking another dig at the ruling party, Rahul referred to the controversial suit that PM Modi wore, with his name monogrammed as pinstripes, during the visit of US President Barack Obama this year.
“Yeh to suit-boot ki sarkar hai (This is a government of the suit and boot),” he said, adding, “Chalo, suit ki baat khatam ho gayi hai (The talk about suit is over). You auctioned it. I will not speak about it now. Happy?”