Modi, Shah lead BJP’s ‘save democracy’ fast, Congress mocks it

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday led their party MPs across the country for a ‘save democracy fast and protest’ against the washout of the second part of Parliament’s Budget Session, which they blamed on the Congress.

During the “Loktantra Bachao Upvaas and Dharna” that begun at 10 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., the Prime Minister continued with his routine official work, including inaugurating the 10th edition of Defence Expo at Tiruvidanthai near Chennai. He, however, did not join any of the party programmes.

“They (opposition) killed democracy and we will observe the fast to bring their crime in front of world. I will also hold fast. But I will continue my work,” a BJP statement quoted Modi as saying on Wednesday.

Shah undertook the party’s programme in Dharwad in Karnataka while party’s Lok Sabha MPs observed fast at their respective constituencies. He was joined by the party’s state unit chief B.S. Yeddyurappa, MPs Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Pralhad Joshi and the party’s state leader, Jagadish Shettar, among others.

Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar, Ananth Kumar, D.V. Sadananda Gowda and other BJP workers observed the protest fast in Bengaluru.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with party MPs, MLAs, MLCs and others sat on a day-long fast across the state.

Fadnavis, along with Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar, MP Poonam Mahajan, actor-turned-MP Paresh Rawal and legislator Parag Alvani launched the fast at the party office in Vile Parle.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal started a hunger strike at the government hostel in adjoining Thane along with a large number of supporters and party activists.

Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda joined the fast in Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi. Other BJP Rajya Sabha MPs joined the protest in various states.

Addressing a gathering in Dharwad, Shah lambasted the Congress, saying a party which lacks “internal democracy” cannot protect democracy in the country.

Accusing the Congress and its President Rahul Gandhi of promoting “divisive politics” in the name of caste and religion, he said the people of Karnataka will see through their tactics and give them a befitting reply in the upcoming polls.

He said the government was ready to discuss all issues, including the Punjab National Bank fraud and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh, but it was the Congress that used the smaller parties to disrupt the proceedings.

“We were even ready to discuss the bank fraud case. Not a single BJP leader or minister is involved. But if a list of corrupt Congress leaders was to be drawn, the entire party could be found in the roll call,” he said.

“Post-independence if there was any government that carried out the maximum developmental work in Andhra Pradesh, it was the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.

“Modi ji, Madam Speaker (Sumitra Mahajan) and (Rajya Sabha) Chairman (M. Venkaiah Naidu) tried their best to persuade the opposition to allow the Budget session to be fruitful, but all went in vein.

“The Congress cannot save democracy in the country as it has no internal democracy,” Shah said.

Later, in a blog, Shah repeated the charge against the Congress, saying the country was not going to forgive it for disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

The Congress attacked Modi and Shah for observing a “fake fast” and termed it as “PM’s fast of atonement”.

It put out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders’ schedule for the day mentioning breakfast and lunch timings on Twitter.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “Mr. Prime Minister, best wishes for your fast.”

He attached Modi’s travel schedule in Tamil Nadu, that showed that the Prime Minister would be having his breakfast on board a IAF BBJ at 6.40 a.m.

The opposition party said that after his departure from Chennai at 2.25 p.m, he will have lunch on board.

The Congress spokesperson challenged the Prime Minister to prove him otherwise. “Now, tell us that this is a lie.”

“Now, ‘jumla’ fast gets over in an hour and feast after that. Good wishes for your fake fast,” he added.

He also attached Shah’s public programmes in Karnataka, mentioning Shah will have lunch with farmers at 1.30 p.m in Rona Taluk village in Gadag.