In a sharp retort to his critics after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praise of him had raised eyebrows, former Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday they have a “polluted mind” and need to go back to “kindergarten to learn ABC of politics”.
A former leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Azad slammed those who could not differentiate between farewell speeches and a routine one, saying their political acumen is “questionable at best”.
Mincing no words in a wide-ranging interview to PTI, the former Congress veteran went further to suggest that such individuals should consider revisiting their basic understanding of politics, even suggesting a return to kindergarten to learn the rudimentary ABCs of political discourse.
Soon after Azad quit the Congress, several party leaders recalled Modi’s lavish praise in his emotional speech in Parliament during Azad’s farewell from Rajya Sabha to allege some sort of agenda.
Referring to Azad’s scathing resignation letter, Congress Media Department Chairman Pawan Khera had attacked the former Union minister, saying, “We have seen the love between Modi and Azad, it was also seen in the Parliament. That love has been manifested in this letter.” In the interview on the eve of his book launch “Azaad — an autobiography”, the former Union minister said his good relations with the prime minister dated back to the period when he was a general secretary of the BJP.
Azad, who retired from the Rajya Sabha on February 15, 2021, said that there were 20 speakers who spoke on his farewell day which included the prime minister.
Asked that immediately after Modi’s speech he was dubbed as an agent of the BJP, he said “that is insulting. That means that the brains of some people are polluted. Only people with polluted brains can say such things.” In his book, Azad speaks about his tenure as leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and says this period gave him an opportunity to understand the prime minister both inside the house and outside.
“As LoP, I tried my best to raise issues of social, political and economic importance, and confronted the PM and his colleagues every time on the floor of the House, but he never reacted to the harsh words I used against his government’s performance. I found him to be a great listener with a capacity to tolerate criticism,” said Azad, adding he opposed the government on Article 370, CAA and hijab.
Azad was critical of frequent disruption caused by the Congress party in the Parliament and said “with what face they would go to the voters”.
“During my tenure in the Parliament, I ensured that it functions and I used to ensure give and take,” he said and pointed out that one needs to see the records during that period that when Lok Sabha was disrupted, the Rajya Sabha was functioning.
“But that does not mean that we were not protesting. The question is that of the Lok Sabha members nothing is on record against the government but in Rajya Sabha everything is on record,” he said.
He said if one goes to five years of Lok Sabha during his tenure in Rajya Sabha, “you will hardly find any speech against the government because everyday they would boycott and on the same days you will see everything is on record.
“… If tomorrow somebody wants to know what Congress leaders said in Lok Sabha, they will have nothing to show,” he said.
Azad said those believing in boycotting Parliament should do introspection on whether they really represent people.
He said the bills today are passed in huff because the MPs are not interested in debating. “I dont know if the MPs are not interested or their leaders are. It is million dollar question,” he said.
Azad recollected that during his tenure of being opposition leader “I did not listen and ensured the house was functioning even much to the displeasure of some of my party leaders.”