No Confidence debate: Amit Shah, Smriti Irani fail to dent Rahul Gandhi

To counter Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's oratory, the BJP fielded Union ministers Smriti Irani and Amit Shah—but they failed to make an impression

Home minister Amit Shah (Photo: IANS)
Home minister Amit Shah (Photo: IANS)

NH Political Bureau

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to speak in Parliament on the no-confidence motion mooted over the Manipur violence, the Bharatiya Janata Party fielded two Union ministers to respond to Rahul Gandhi’s attack in Parliament today, 9 August.

Union minister Smriti Irani, whose name was called by the Lok Sabha chairman immediately after Rahul Gandhi’s speech, attacked previous Congress governments over issues unrelated to the Manipur question.

Referring to the reopening of the investigation into the murder of Neelkanth Ganjoo by the Modi government, Irani asked why the Congress does not speak for Kashmiri Pandits.

"Rahul Gandhi spoke of the voice of India. Are the voices of Girija Tickoo, Sarla Bhatt and Sikhs massacred in 1984 not the voices of India?" asked Smriti Irani.

She also raised the issue of the alleged funding of the media organisation NewsClick by the Chinese government.

Irani, whose speech was otherwise dull and directionless according to political observers, then accused Rahul Gandhi of blowing a flying kiss towards her. She then filed a complaint with the Lok Sabha speaker against Rahul Gandhi, seeking stringent action against the Wayanad MP.

Reacting to Irani’s allegations, the Congress leader's colleague Manickam Tagore suggested she was suffering from 'Rahul-phobia'.

"Today, after his speech in Parliament, Rahul Gandhi signalled to the hon'ble Speaker that he was leaving to have food. It's evident he wasn't even looking at the BJP MPs, let alone Smriti Irani, but at the Speaker. However, the BJP MPs came up with a horrendous allegation against Rahul Gandhi," AICC coordinator Gaurav Pandhi, from the office of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, wrote on Twitter (now rebranding to X).

Union minister Amit Shah was next to lead the BJP charge, after Irani’s speech. Mocking the no-confidence motion moved by the INDIA bloc, Shah too targeted Rahul Gandhi rather than explain why Manipur is still burning and why it is a non-issue.

Telling Parliament that "107 people were killed (in Manipur) in May”, Shah termed the crisis an ethnic conflict and sidestepped the government's responsibility towards the state in crisis, saying, "Whatever (is) happening in Manipur is ethnic violence triggered by circumstances. It should not be turned into a political issue."

Attacking Rahul Gandhi for creating ‘drama’ during his visit to Manipur, Shah then claimed, “[The] violence is under control now (in Manipur) but people shouldn’t add oil to the fire. During Rahul Gandhi’s visit, he insisted on visiting Churachandpur by road when we had arranged a helicopter for him. The country witnessed the whole drama on TV. The next day, he went on to use the helicopter, but he couldn’t do that before because he wanted to showcase his protest. Such kind of politics shouldn’t be done in a time of crisis.” 

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Published: 09 Aug 2023, 8:56 PM