Fiery response from Smriti Irani, Amit Shah to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Mata murdered’ barb


New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tore into the Narendra Modi government over its handling of the violence in Manipur, alleging the politics of the BJP has “murdered Bharat Mata” in the state, drawing a fiery response from Union ministers Amit Shah and Smriti Irani.

As the Lok Sabha witnessed some fireworks during the debate on the no-confidence motion for the second day during which Gandhi also called members of the ruling party “traitors”, Home Minister Shah appealed with folded hands for peace in Manipur and urged the warring Kuki and Meitei communities to hold talks with the Centre to resolve the issue that has triggered the ethnic violence.

“In Manipur, they (BJP) have murdered Hindustan. Their politics has not killed Manipur but killed Hindustan in Manipur. Hindustan has been murdered in Manipur,” Gandhi alleged.

The Lok Sabha adopted a resolution read out by Speaker Om Birla appealing for peace in Manipur and it was enthusiastically supported by the BJP-led NDA members in the presence of the opposition.

Hours after Gandhi’s blistering attack on the prime minister for not visiting the strife-torn Manipur, a combative Shah, who hit back and spoke on a range of issues including on the several scams during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA, urged the opposition not to politicise the ethnic violence in Manipur that erupted on May 3.

“I agree with the opposition that there is a cycle of violence in Manipur … Nobody can support such incidents. Whatever happened is shameful, but to politicise those events is even more shameful,” Shah said in his nearly two-hour long intervention.

Shah also questioned the intention of leaking the video of two women being paraded naked in Manipur just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament which began on July 20. The video of the incident which happened on May 4 surfaced on July 19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to reply to the debate on August 10 which will be followed by voting —- the outcome of which is already known with the numbers comfortably stacked in favour of the government.

Speaking after Gandhi, Irani came down heavily on the former Congress chief for his “murder of India in Manipur” remark, saying this is for the first time in parliamentary democracy that someone has made such a statement.

“I condemn the behaviour that was displayed. This is the first time in Parliament’s history that someone talked about the murder of Bharat Mata, and Congress leaders were thumping desks,” the BJP MP, said asserting that Manipur is an integral part of India.

She also accused Congress leaders of supporting the idea of dividing India. “Manipur is not divided, it is part of this country”.

As BJP members booed the Congress leader when he was leaving the House after his speech, he turned towards them and gave them a flying kiss.

Minister Irani took on the Wayanad MP and expressed outrage over his “indecent gsture”.

“The person who spoke before me… an indecent gesture was made… only a misogynistic man can give a flying kiss to Parliament which seats female Members of Parliament… such indecent act has not been witnessed by the House ever before. The entire country has seen the culture of the (Gandhi) family,” she said.

Later, many women MPs of the BJP sought “stringent action” against Gandhi in a complaint to Speaker Birla.

Gandhi, in his first comments in the House after the restoration of his membership, alleged that the prime minister does not consider the state a part of India, triggering strong protests by the treasury benches. The prime minister was not in the House when Gandhi spoke.

“As I had said, India is a voice of the people. You killed that voice in Manipur. This means that you murdered Bharat Mata in Manipur,” Gandhi asserted in his 30-minute spirited speech amid thumping of desks by opposition leaders.

“By killing the people of Manipur you have murdered Bharat, you are not desh bhakt (patriot) but deshdrohi (traitor),” the former Congress chief said.

The prime minister cannot go to Manipur because “he has murdered Hindustan there…You are not the protectors of Bharat Mata but its killers,” he alleged.

Speaker Birla then urged Gandhi to exercise restraint while speaking in the House, asserting that “Bharat Mata is our mother”.

Responding to the Speaker’s remarks, Gandhi said, “I am talking about the murder of my mother in Manipur. I am speaking with respect that you murdered my mother in Manipur. My mother is sitting here. The other mother, Bharat Mata, you killed in Manipur,” he said pointing to Sonia Gandhi who was present in the House.

“Till you do not stop violence in Manipur you are murdering my mother.” Gandhi also went on to say that it is the Army that can bring peace to Manipur but the government is not deploying it.

He also alleged that the prime minister listens to only two people, Amit Shah and Gautam Adani, just as Ravan paid heed to only two people’s advice –Meghnad and Kumbhakaran.

Gandhi showed an old poster of Modi and Adani sitting together in an aircraft, and claimed that “Modi doesn’t listen to India’s voice but theirs (Adani group).” After the treasury benches protested over the poster, pointing out that it was not allowed by the rules, Speaker Birla again asked Gandhi to exercise restraint.

“Hanuman had not burnt down Lanka, Ravan’s arrogance did it. Ravan was not killed by Ram but by his arrogance,” Gandhi said, referring to the Indian epic Ramayana.

“I went to Manipur a few days ago. Our prime minister has not gone there, he has not gone there till now. He does not consider Manipur part of India. I used the word Manipur, but the reality is that there is no Manipur left. You have divided Manipur into two parts, you have broken up Manipur,” Gandhi said.

Several Rajya Sabha MPs of the Congress were in the visitor’s gallery of the Lok Sabha to hear him speak for the first time after his reinstatement as an MP.

“You are sprinkling kerosene everywhere. You sprinkled kerosene in Manipur and then added fire to it. You are now trying the same thing in Haryana. You are attempting to burn the country everywhere. You are murdering Bharat Mata throughout the country,” he said, referring to recent communal clashes in Gurugram and Nuh.

As the treasury benches protested and slammed Gandhi, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said the Congress leader should apologise for his remarks as it is the Congress that was responsible for insurgency and other problems in the northeast.

In his speech, Gandhi also said the Bharat Jodo Yatra is not over and he undertook the cross-country march to understand what is that he loved and for what he had faced abuse for 10 years.

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