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Posted at: Feb 5, 2018, 3:16 PM; last updated: Feb 5, 2018, 10:19 PM (IST)

In maiden RS speech, Amit Shah takes on Congress

Says selling 'pakodas' better than joblessness
In maiden RS speech, Amit Shah takes on Congress
BJP chief Amit Shah said surgical strike was a historic moment.

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 5

Making his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday tore into the Congress over its criticism of GST, "failure" to tackle unemployment and other issues, as he listed his government's achievements on various fronts.

Initiating the debate on the Motion of Thanks for the President's address, Shah took on senior Congress leader P Chidambaram for his 'pakoda' jibe and said it was "better to sell pakodas than to beg".

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"Some people are saying things about selling pakodas. I also read P. Chidambaram's tweet. Yes, I agree that selling pakodas is better than being unemployed.

"Making and selling pakodas is not shameful, but equating it with begging is certainly shameful," Shah said.

"Today if a person is earning livelihood by selling pakodas, tomorrow his son would become a big industrialist. A tea vendor's son can become the Prime Minister of this country," he added amid Opposition's hooting.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a television interview just ahead of the Budget session had said that people earning Rs 200 a day selling pakoras can be considered employed.

Modi's claim drew widespread flak from the Opposition with leaders calling it a "cruel joke" and as good as begging.

Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister Chidambaram had tweeted: "Even selling pakodas is a 'job', said PM. By that logic, even begging is a job. Let's count poor or disabled persons who are forced to beg for a living as 'employed' people."

In his over an hour-long speech, Shah said, "I accept there is unemployment in the country. It is a problem. But you (Congress) have been ruling the country for so many years. We have been in power for eight years (including Vajpayee rule)."         

He also lashed out at the Congress for its opposition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and for dubbing it as 'Gabbar Singh Tax'.

Noting that "Gabbar Singh Tax is named after the filmy dacoit" (a character in Bollywood blockbuster Sholay), Shah asked "is this (GST) dacoity? How much do those who have named this as Gabbar Singh Tax understand? It is not dacoity but the revenues go to pay subsidies for various services of widows and the poor."

He said surgical strike was a historic moment.

He said the world started seeing India from a different view after surgical strike.

“They realised that after America and Israel, India is the only country, which can protect its soldiers and the Army,” said Amit Shah

He said Kashmir issue was very crucial problem for the nation. “Kashmir has never been so safe in the last 35 years. We handled the Kashmir issue very well,” said Amit Shah.

The BJP president also pitched for simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections, besides touching upon a host of measures taken by the government -- ranging from power supply, toilets, gas, employment and health facilities to the people. Shah said there is apprehension in some quarters that the simultaneous elections will help the BJP. But any changes should not be seen in immediate context.

He said the prime minister has rooted out three ills which had been plaguing Indian democracy: dynasty, casteism and appeasement politics.

He said in the more than three and half years of Modi government, the Opposition has not been able to single out any instance of corruption against it.

Referring to Kashmir, he said, “We have handled it well. Kashmir is safe and secure. The stone pelting which had been happening at the instance of a foreign power has been taken care of.”

He hit out at the Congress for blocking triple talaq Bill and the Bill to give constitutional status to OBC Commission even though they were passed in the Lok Sabha where the NDA has majority.

When the Congress members objected saying they did not oppose them, he quipped that the definition of opposition does not change by altering its style.

He said the Congress will have to answer the OBCs for stalling the Bill which related to improving their welfare and status.

He said that triple talaq is not the first time that drew the country’s attention. Following the Supreme Court judgment in the Shah Bano case, the then Congress government nullified through a legislation, he said.

The triple talaq Bill brought by the Modi government is for the welfare of Muslim women, he said.

Referring to the GST, he said it is the Modi government’s achievement. He said although there are teething problems with regard to its implementation, the government is sensitive and quick to take corrective procedural measures regarding it.

Shah said canards were being floated that GST would harm small and medium size businesses and termed them as baseless and said it is not proper to instigate public not to pay taxes.

Refuting Congress’ allegation made in the past that the BJP opposed the GST when it was in Opposition, Shah said the states then opposed it and the Congress-led UPA government had not allayed their apprehensions on compensating them in the face of revenue loss following implementation of the new tax regime (GST).

The NDA government has done so and this is why the states came on board in the matter.

He said the Congress is double faced. While its governments in the state support GST in GST Council, the party speaks in contrary voices in Parliament and at public places. — With Agencies 

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