Leaders from various sections of Congress have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak in Parliament on subjects like the Kashmir situation, the attack on Dalits and cow vigilantes — subjects which Modi has already spoken on outside the legislature. The latest to join this chorus was Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that Modi should participate in debates on these issues in Parliament.
The demand may be legitimate from a political and legislative standpoint, but may strike a discordant note among political observers because it is coming from a party whose prime minister for 10 years, Manmohan Singh, rarely spoke on burning issues during the UPA-I and UPA-II regimes.
In fact, on the rare occasion that he did speak on one such issue — the brutal gang rape of college student Jyoti Singh in a moving bus in Delhi on Dec. 16, 2012 — he created controversy by ending his speech, delivered in condemnation of the attack, with the words: "Theek Hai." It was apparently meant for the Doordarshan videographers recording the interview, but social media latched onto this and spared no effort in pointing out how rehearsed or scripted Singh's approach had been to burning issues during his regime.
Even on the scam over the sale of 2G spectrum or coal blocks, Singh's speeches were mostly on how he was not involved in them, because he was either not told of the decisions or kept in the dark about approvals. Otherwise, he was mostly silent on the big issues of the day.
Therefore, when Azad on Wednesday said the Congress had been "repeatedly demanding that Modi come and speak in Parliament on issues such as the Kashmir situation and atrocities on Dalits," it struck a jarring chord, given Manmohan Singh's persistent silence on the issue, due to which he had been dubbed "Maun"-mohan on social media.
Azad's demand that Modi speak in Parliament followed similar demands from fellow partymen, like Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress national spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi and Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh.
It may be noted that Modi had, during a townhall-style meeting on the first anniversary of MyGov on Saturday, Aug. 6, said on the attacks on Dalits allegedly by cow-protection vigilantes: "I get so angry at those who are into the gau-rakshak business. A gau-bhakt is different, gau seva is different. I have seen some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau rakshaks by day."
Then, on Sunday, Aug. 7., he had said in an address to party workers: "I would like to tell these people [assaulting Dalits] that if you have any problem, if you have to attack, attack me. Stop attacking my Dalit brethren. If you have to shoot, shoot me, but not my Dalit brothers."
And finally, on Tuesday, he said during an address that everyone in India loves Kashmir, and that only a few misled people there were tarnishing its culture.