Opposition wants an ‘Old India’, says Modi

Updated: 08:54 GMT, Feb 8, 2018 | Published: 04:24 GMT, Feb 8, 2018 |
Ayushman Bharat scheme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the Opposition to set up a task force to detect loopholes in the Ayushman Bharat scheme, under which the Centre has proposed health coverage for 10 crore poor families and setting up of 1.5 lakh wellness centres, so that they could be plugged.

In his statement on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address to the joint session of Parliament, Mr. Modi said an initial framework for the scheme had been laid down and the government would consider suggestions for improvement. The objective was to strengthen the existing infrastructure, he said.

The Prime Minister wondered why the Opposition frowned upon India’s improved ranking in ease-of-doing business. Targeting the Opposition, Mr. Modi said they had every right to criticise him and the BJP, but in doing so they sometimes forgot that they were inadvertently pulling the nation down.

Trinamool members walked out of the House saying Mr. Modi had not responded to the issues raised by them. About the criticism of his “New India” campaign, the Prime Minister said the slogan was first given by Swami Vivekananda.

“I don’t know what problem they have with ‘New India’…you want Gandhi’s India. We also want Gandhi’s India,” he said, quipping that Mahatma Gandhi had said that as India had got Independence, the Congress was no more needed and that it should be disbanded. Attacking the main Opposition, Mr. Modi said they wanted the “Old India”, mired in corruption scandals and the Emergency when the whole country was turned into a prison.

He also made references to the 1984 riots and the escape of Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson after the Bhopal gas tragedy, saying: “You don’t want a new India.”

On the Bofors issue, Mr. Modi quoted senior Congress leader and former President, R. Venkataraman, who in his book referred to a conversation with J.R.D. Tata, who — as mentioned — felt that after 1980, funds had not been sought from industrialists and the party expenses were met from commissions on defence deals. The Prime Minister said starting projects half-heartedly and then putting them on the back-burner was a Congress legacy. He wondered why the Congress mocked schemes like Swachh Bharat and blocked Bills on OBC Commission and triple talaq.

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