Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi accused the Indian government of failing to live up to its promises as the Indian Parliament on Friday debated and defeated a no-confidence motion moved by the opposition against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
The motion was defeated by 325-126 votes by lawmakers.
Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, accused the government of creating only 400,000 new jobs against the 20 million promised in a year.
He accused Modi of favoring big business houses in defense and business deals at the expense of poor people.
That angered lawmakers in Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, leading the speaker to briefly adjourn the house proceedings to cool tempers.
Gandhi later resumed his speech and at the end of it unexpectedly walked to where Modi was sitting and shook hands and hugged him.
Modi in his speech later had a dig at Gandhi’s gesture, accusing him of trying to unseat him as the prime minister.
Political analyst Seema Mustafa said Rahul Gandhi’s hugging of Modi was a reminder to him that he was in the habit of embracing “reluctant and willing leaders across the world and today he was caught off guard” by Gandhi.
Modi said that the opposition knew that it did not have enough support to defeat his government.
“It misused the provision to destabilize his government,” he said.
Modi said his economic policies have in the past four years lifted 50 million people out of poverty levels of less than US$2 income a day.
India has risen to be the sixth-largest economy in the world and was heading toward a US$5 trillion economy, he said.
The opposition apparently decided to test the strength of Modi’s government following Modi’s estrangement with some of his allies. Two of them, Shiv Sena and Biju Janata Dal, abstained from voting to express their unhappiness with Modi’s policies.
Gandhi accused the Modi government of buying 36 Rafael fighter aircraft from France at a highly inflated price — nearly triple the price being negotiated when the Indian Congress was in power before Modi became prime minister in 2014.
Indian Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman immediately refuted his claim.
Gandhi asked the government to reveal the price of the Rafael aircraft deal, claiming that French President Emmanuel Macron in March told him the purchasing agreement had no secrecy clause.
The French Embassy in New Delhi immediately issued a statement saying that a security agreement bound the two countries to protect classified information that could affect the defense capabilities of either.
Modi accused Gandhi of “trampling upon the truth to mislead the nation on security-related issues.”
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