Shortly after Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge released a ‘black paper’, highlighting the government’s “failures”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded that the Opposition party’s move was like a “kaala tika” for his government that will ward off the evil eye.
The Congress this morning published a ‘black paper’ to counter the ‘white paper’ Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will table in Parliament. Ms Sitharaman had announced in her budget speech the white paper will be tabled “to look at where we were till 2014 and where we are now”. The only objective behind this move, she said, “was to draw lessons from the mismanagement of those years”.
Releasing the black paper this morning, Mr Kharge said, “The government will never say how many people got jobs. They are releasing MGNREGA funds. They are discriminating against states,” Mr Kharge said. Countering the Centre’s attack on Congress ideologues Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, he said, “You are ruling today, what have you done to control inflation today?”
“The Modi government’s tenure is marked by high rates of unemployment, economic catastrophes, such as demonetisation and flawed GST, which have only increased the divide between the rich & the poor and devastated the future of millions of farmers and daily wage workers,” the black paper states.
Soon after Congress released the document, Prime Minister Modi walked into Rajya Sabha to bid farewell to MPs whose term is about to end. Addressing the House, he mocked the Opposition’s black shirts protest. “We saw a fashion parade in black clothes. The House benefited from the fashion show.”
“Kharge ji is here. If a child does something good, if a child gets ready for a special occasion and puts on nice clothes, someone in the family puts a ‘kaala tika’ to ward off the evil eye. Over the past 10 years, the country is climbing new summits of prosperity. To ensure we are safe from the evil eye, an attempt has been made to put a ‘kaala tika’. I want to thank Kharge ji for that,” the Prime Minister said in a sarcastic response to the Congress move.
The Prime Minister praised his predecessor Manmohan Singh and lauded him for his contributions to Parliament and the country. He also referred to a recent vote in the Upper House for which the 91-year-old leader turned up in a wheelchair. “I remember, during the voting, it was known that the treasury bench would win but Dr Manmohan Singh came on his wheelchair and cast his vote. This an example of a member being alert of his duties. It was an inspirational example,” he said. The Prime Minister was referring to the vote on the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The Bill — now an Act — was to consolidate the Centre’s control on Delhi officers. The Congress was backing AAP in the vote and the former Prime Minister had come on a wheelchair. The BJP had responded by targeting the Congress, saying it “shameful” that the nonagenarian was made to wait in the House till late.