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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Modi denounces communalism, says it has ruined country for political reasons

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday broke his silence in Parliament to denounce communalism and to assert that his government stood for prospering of all religions while he offered to make changes if necessary in the Land Bill in farmers’ interest.

In a 75-minute speech in the Lok Sabha, combining aggression against the Congress with appeals to the opposition, he declared that as Prime Minister, it was his “responsibility” not to allow “anaap shanap” (ridiculous) comments on religion or discrimination on religious basis.

Against the backdrop of criticism that he maintained silence over statements made by fringe elements, Modi said he has thousand means to “shut their mouths” but he cannot be expected to waste time by making comments on all these statements.

In a spirited reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in Lok Sabha, he also expressed willingness to make changes in the land bill as he reached out to opposition for support, saying they should shed politics and ego and not make it a prestige issue. Again he taunted Congress saying it cannot be "arrogant" that the land law passed by it is the best.

Responding point by point to the issues raised by the opposition, he took pot-shots at Congress repeatedly while referring to corruption, black money, MNREGA and coal block allocations.

The Prime Minister was particularly severe on the Congress on its pet scheme MNREGA calling it a “living monument” of poverty in the country even 60 years after independence.

“Do you think, I will put an end to the scheme. My political wisdom does not allow me to do it. This is a living monument of your failure to tackle poverty in 60 years. With song and dance and drum beat, I will continue with the scheme,” he said amidst thumping of desks by the ruling benches and consternation among the Congress members. During the debate, the Congress members had accused the Modi government of not implementing the MNREGS.

At the end of his speech, Leader of the Congress Mallikarjun Kharge accused Modi of making “fun” of a programme for the poor and said in Gujarat after so many years of his rule still poverty reigned supreme.

The House adopted the motion of thanks to the President's address rejecting a TMC member's amendment in a division with 51 voting for the amendment and 203 against. The member Saugata Roy wanted the speech to include a reference to the secular nature of the country and regretted the absence of issues like “ghar wapsi” programme of VHP and RSS. All the other opposition amendments were rejected by a voice vote. Modi sought cooperation of the opposition for his government's initiatives like empowerment of states to strengthen federalism, cleanliness drive and Jan Dhan and efforts to fight corruption and blackmoney.

Referring to the issue of communalism, Modi asserted, "Nobody has the right to discriminate on the basis of religion... "No one has the right to take law into his hands." He said "Communalism for political reasons has destroyed the country. Hearts have been broken".

Asking why questions were being "posed to us" and to their commitment, he said, "My government's only religion is 'India first', my government's only religious book is 'Indian Constitution', our only devotion is 'Bharat Bhakti' and our only prayer is 'welfare of all'."

His statement assumes significance as he has been under attack over certain communal remarks made by some BJP and Sangh parivar leaders besides attacks on churches.