Delhi: Mixing aggression, wit and barbs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused Congress-led Opposition of stalling Parliament because of "jealousy" and "inferiority complex" of its leadership even as he appealed for Opposition support for "improving" governance while sidestepping the raging controversies surrounding JNU and Hyderabad University.
In his 75-minute speech in the Lok Sabha, he paid back in sarcasm to the attack, particularly by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, yesterday over various initiatives of his government, including the 'Make in India' programme and MNREGA.
However, at the end of his speech winding up the debate on the motion of thanks to the President's address, the Prime Minister held out an olive branch to the opposition seeking its cooperation in running the government for the benefit of the people and the country.
PM Modi takes on Opposition
Winding up the discussion in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks to President Pranab Mukherjee for his Address to Parliament, PM Modi said, "Parliament is a forum where different view points are put forward, where questions are being asked to the government, where government is made accountable and nobody is spared.
"And in doing so, it would be great if we uphold Parliamentary traditions" and let the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha function "peacefully and responsibly", he said.
PM Modi noted this was "not a sermon" but the "words of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi".
He also recalled the statements of Nehru, Indira and India's first president Rajendra Prasad and urged the opposition for its support to pass crucial legislations, including the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill.
PM Modi said the Opposition was suffering from an "inferiority complex".
"Some people want to oppose for the sake of it. There are such bright MPs in the opposition, but they are not being allowed to speak. Nobody in the opposition must look stronger and this is the inferiority complex," he said, as per IANS.
However, at the end of his speech, the PM toned down his aggression and sought the support of the Congress and other Opposition parties to run the government for the sake of people and the country.
"Let's walk shoulder-to-shoulder and do something for the country. I am new, you are experienced," PM Modi said.
"We need to make an atmosphere of improving trust. If you have suggestions, please do offer. I would like the government to adopt these habits. The government also needs to improve and this would not happen without your support. I need your support. I need you people, your experience."
In an obvious attack on Rahul Gandhi, PM Modi returned the barbs the Congress leader had hurled at him on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha over the Prime Minister's reluctance to take the opposition on board over various issues.
"Some people learn with age but some don't," PM Modi said.
PM Modi didn't name Rahul but recalled how he had in 2013 torn before reporters a controversial Ordinance of the then Congress government on convicted lawmakers when then PM Manmohan Singh was visiting the US.
"The ordinance was torn apart when the then honourable prime minister was in the US to meet (Barack) Obama. Please learn to respect elders," PM Modi said as Gandhi listened.
MPs from the BJP and its allies thumped their desks in appreciation even as the opposition booed following PM Modi's remark.
PM Modi has failed to provide healing touch to the nation, says Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress today hit back at PM Modi accusing him of failing to provide a healing touch to the nation facing crisis in several fields by "not rising above petty politics".
Party's senior spokesman Anand Sharma found PM Modi's reference to Nikita Khruschev a "very ominous sign", insisting that right to oppose is a Constitutional right.
"The Prime Minister's reply was sad and disappointing. He did not respond to any of the issues raised by Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi," he told reporters, as per PTI.
Sharma also lamented that PM Modi did not speak a single word on the "failures" of government in several fields and how it planned to face the challenges.
"True to his characteristic style, he created a smokescreen of boastful claims and made fun of his political opponents," he said.
Sharma said that the Prime Minister failed to speak on the crisis facing the economy, falling exports, his stopover in Pakistan, black money, JNU row and Rohit Vemula's suicide.
Taking a dig at PM Modi for recalling the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, he said it was good that he remembered the late PMs while talking of disruptions in Parliament.
Besides, he said PM Modi's recalling Nehru showed he has "started reading a bit" and if he read more about the first Prime Minister of India, he would know more about Indian nationalism and the idea of India and would never be so bitter.
"But he conveniently forgot to tell the House that the BJP had been responsible for disrupting Parliament for 500 out of 900 hours during the UPA tenure," Sharma said.
Turning to the Khruschev story narrated by the Prime Minister, Sharma said Modi got the story wrong as in actuality, the person who asked question to the Russian leader had never stood up, making Khruschev remark that is the answer why he did not speak during the Stalin era.
He, however, said the Khruschev story narrated by the PM is a "very ominous sign" and "highly objectionable" as right to oppose is a constitutional right.
Sharma said the government's "mindset" could be gauged from the fact that leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury were being slapped cases under sedition charges.
Taking a jibe at PM Modi, he said, "He is telling others to become mature. I hope that after one reads Gandhi and Nehru more, he gains the ideological and political maturity to govern a complex, diverse and beautiful country that is the Republic of India."
(With Agency inputs)