NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for accelerated efforts to rid the country of corruption, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition as parliamentarians expressed their resolve to work towards creating an India of the dreams of freedom fighters by 2022 to mark Independence’s 75th anniversary.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha held special discussions on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of Quit India movement and adopted resolutions to express people’s collective desire to make a strong, prosperous, clean and corruption-free country.
Opposition leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi recalled the sacrifices of freedom fighters and also took digs at the government over its economic policies and “attacks on democracy”.
Participating in the special discussion in the Lok Sabha, Modi said that the five years from 1942 were “transformative” in march towards freedom and urged MPs to rise above political differences and join in the common effort to create an India of the dreams of freedom fighters in the next five years.
“If in 1942 the clarion call was ‘kargenge ya marenge (do or die)’, today the call should be ‘karenge aur kar ke rahenge (do and achieve)’,” he said, adding that the coming five years should also be about a resolve which will lead us to accomplishment.
In the nearly 40-minute speech, Modi recalled the role played by Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Chandrashekhar Azad, Sukhdev, Jayaprakash Narayan and others but did not mention country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
“When Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who always propagated non-violence, raised the call to ‘Do or Die’, every one was imbued with this spirit. Five years was all it took to achieve the objective of Independence, once the entire country shared this resolve.
“From 2017 to 2022, when India turns 75, we need to create the same spirit that existed from 1942 to 1947,” he said, urging people to take a pledge to end corruption, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy besides ensuring gender equality.
Sonia Gandhi, in her speech took swipes at the BJP and Modi government and expressed concern over “attacks on democracy” by “communal and repressive forces”. She said attempts were being made to destroy the foundation of Indian democracy.
“At a time when we are celebrating 75 years of the Quit India Movement, there are doubts among people that there is a fear that the dark forces are emerging again.
“Is not fear taking over the atmosphere of independence? Are attempts not being made to destroy the foundation of democracy?” Gandhi asked.
In a dig at BJP and its ideological mentor RSS, she said: “We must not forget that in those times there were such organisations and people as well who opposed the Quit India movement. These elements did not play any role in getting us independence” and stressed the anniversary was a reminder that the idea of India cannot be a prisoner of a narrow, divisive, conservative mindset.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the freedom fighters had given call for “Bharat Chhodo” (Quit India)and the country’s unity will be further strengthened with “Bharat Jodo” (Unite India) movement from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Initiating the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said political parties should strive to restore the credibility in the public life that has eroded over the years.
He said that when freedom movement leaders gave the call of Quit India, the entire nation stood with them because their credibility was high.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the leaders of freedom movement had emphasised on unity between different communities.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said neo-liberal economic policies should “quit India” as he noted that 58.4 per cent of GDP was now in the hands of one per cent of the population. “Is this the India of the dreams of 1947 when we became independent?” he asked.
The two houses later adopted resolutions. The Lok Sabha resolution pledged to form a powerful, prosperous, clean, glorious India which is corruption free, has good administration, is advanced in science and technology and committed to inclusive development.
The resolution in Rajya Sabha, read by Chairman Hamid Ansari, said that the house solemnly pledges to uphold and safeguard the values and ideals of the freedom movement.