New Delhi:After Congress’ nationwide fast earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will observe a day-long fast in New Delhi on Thursday. Top BJP leaders, meanwhile, will fan out to different parts of the country to lead the protest against the washout of Parliament proceedings. While BJP chief Amit Shah will fast in poll-bound Karnataka, Union Health Minister J P Nadda will lead the charge in PM Modi’s constituency Varanasi.
Why is PM Modi fasting?
Accusing the Congress of taking parliamentary proceedings “to a new low” with its conduct, PM Modi announced the fast to protest the impasse “caused” by the opposition party in Parliament, which saw a washout of the second half of the Budget Session. Addressing BJP MPs on the party’s foundation day, PM Modi directed all party units across the nation to observe the fast.
Addressing party MPs through an audio conference call ahead of the protest, Modi said the BJP leaders and its workers will observe the fast tomorrow to “expose” those handfuls of people who “throttled” democracy by stalling Parliament proceedings.
“The people who couldn’t gain power in 2014, don’t want the country to move forward. They didn’t let Parliament work for a single day. They killed democracy & we will observe fast to bring their crime in front of world. I will also hold fast. But I will continue my work.” said Modi.
Who all are participating in the fast?
The Prime Minister has directed all the party lawmakers to observe fast in their respective constituencies. While PM Modi will lead the party from New Delhi, Amit Shah will hold a sit-in at Hubli in poll-bound Karnataka. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu will accompany PM Modi in the national capital. Union Health Minister J P Nadda will be in Modi’s constituency Varanasi, while Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will travel to Patna for the fast.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will observe the fast in Chennai, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javdekar in Bengaluru, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel in Tamil Nadu and Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar in Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh. Tourism Minister KJ Alphons will observe the fast in Kerala. However, the prime minister will not disturb his routine of meeting people and officials and clearing files during the fast
Taking a swipe against PM Modi’s proposed fast, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi cited the Unnao rape incident and said he hoped that the prime minister would observe a fast “over atrocities against women, failed law and order and increasing anarchy under the BJP’s watch.” Calling it a “drama” and “photo-op,” Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala blamed the BJP for Parliament washout. “Prime Minister ji, it is not the time to observe fast, in view of your failures… it is time to take retirement instead. If you do not wake up now, you should understand that the time of your retirement will come in 2019 when people will vote you out,” he added.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who recently snapped ties with NDA over special status to the state, questioned PM Modi fasting against Parliament impasse, alleging it was the Centre which ensured the disruption by provoking AIADMK over the Cauvery issue. “They provoked the AIADMK and ensured” that the MPs of the ruling party in Tamil Nadu stormed the well of the Lok Sabha and thereby did not allow TDP to raise its demand (for grant of special category status to Andhra Pradesh). How atrocious? And now he (Prime Minister) says he will observe protest…seeking to portray the opposition as wrong and he is right. Is it correct? Is it justified,” he questioned.
MIM party chief Asaduddin Owaisi took a jibe against PM Modi and wondered if he would undertake a fast on the farmers’ suicides issue and also to atone for “false” promises made by him. “If the Prime Minister wants to fast for losing the whole session of parliament, I want to ask the honourable prime minister where is his sense of duty lost, wherein, in the past four years thousands of farmers committed suicides. Will the Prime Minister fast for those farmers? Will he sit on fast against the atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh? Why does not the Prime minister sit on fast to atone for his false promises?,” the Hyderabad Lok Sabha MP questioned.
What happened during Congress’ fast?
The Congress observed a nationwide fast on April 9 to protest atrocities against Dalits and acts of communal violence across the country. However, the image of its leaders eating chole bhature before the fast went viral resulting in deep embarrassment for the party. “Wow our Congress leaders, they invited people to join the hunger strike, but they themselves are relishing chhole bhature at a restaurant … clearly befooling (people),” BJP leader Harish Khurana tweeted with the image of Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken having food along with Amrinder Singh Lovely at a food joint.
Calling it a “farce of a fast”, the BJP mocked the opposition party, saying its leaders claim of bringing a change but cannot abstain from one meal and their president Rahul Gandhi cannot wake up in morning even for a day as they are used to “politics of luxury”. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi for turning up at Rajghat at 1 pm while the fast had started at 10.30 am, saying it shows that the Congress chief cannot wake up in the morning as he and his colleagues were used to “politics of luxury”. He contrasted it with the “politics of performance” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, he noted, comes from a common family belonging to backward caste and has worked to bring Dalits in mainstream socially and economically.
When asked about the picture that surfaced on social media, Lovely explained: “The fast was scheduled to begin at 10:30 AM and we were busy with preparation till late night yesterday. We went for breakfast at around 8 AM. So, there is nothing wrong in it.”
During the fast, Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “casteist” and “anti-Dalit”. He added that his party will always stand against the BJP’s “oppressive” ideology. The Congress president sat for several hours at Rajghat and was joined by senior leaders, including Kamal Nath, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sheila Dikshit, Ashok Gehlot, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken and the party’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala.