Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his reply on Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha to the motion of thanks to the President’s speech, said the Jharkhand mob-lynching incident had pained him. He said the guilty deserved the severest punishment in accordance with law, but took a dig at the opposition for employing different parameters to judge incidents of violence in Jharkhand and in Kerala and West Bengal.
If in his speech in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the PM had sought to rise above the acrimony of the election campaign, in Rajya Sabha 20-hours later his reply to the discussion on the President’s address was replete with pot-shots taken at the Congress party. He said the Congress has disrespected the people of the country by questioning their mandate and resorting to attributing it to EVMs (electronic voting machines).
On the Jharkhand mob lynching, the PM said the incident has “pained” him. “It has saddened others too. Guilty should get severest punishment but for this the entire state has been pronounced guilty and everyone put in dock, which is not right,” he said
Tabrez Ansari, a Muslim youth, accused of stealing a motorcycle, was beaten up by a mob and a video showed that he was purportedly made to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’ in the Saraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand. He later died.
The PM also took note for the first time of the death of over 130 children this month from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), or ‘brain fever’ in Bihar. He said it was a shameful that such disease continues to kill after so many years of independence.
“All kinds of violence whether in Jharkhand or West Bengal or Kerala should be treated as same and law should take its course,” he said. Modi said perpetrators of violence should get a lesson that the entire country is one on this issue.
The opposition later said the PM failed to address any of the concerns that they had raised, including on agrarian distress, drought, and security of women, economic slowdown and lack of jobs. Congress leader Anand Sharma said there was a distinction between the incident in Jharkhand and those of political violence in Kerala and West Bengal.
In his 70-minute speech, after which the House passed the motion of thanks to the President’s address without any amendments, the PM ticked the opposition for its “negativity” and “obstructionism” in the Rajya Sabha, where the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance is in a minority.
He said the people were a witness to their “negativity” in the last five years and taught parties that had indulged in it a lesson in the last five years.