New Delhi: In one of the most hard-hitting frontal attacks on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that those who imposed Emergency, “bullied” the judiciary and insulted the Army were accusing him of destroying institutions.

Hitting back at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over his “chowkidar chor hai” (watchman is thief) jibe, PM Modi said that “the thief is scolding the chowkidar”.

Taking potshots at the Congress in his 100-minute-long speech, PM Modi said that “Congress-mukt Bharat” slogan was not coined by him, instead it was a wish of Mahatma Gandhi which he was trying to fulfil.

“Mahatma Gandhi had back then recommended the dissolution of Congress party. So ‘Congress mukt Bharat’ is not my slogan but I am just fulfilling the wish of Gandhi ji. Shradhanjanli ke roop mein ye karna hi karna hai, kitni bhi milawat karlo bach nahi sakte,” he said.

He launched a stinging attack on the Congress, accusing its successive governments of indulging in corruption and harbouring the corrupt.

“I assure you, those who have looted the nation will continue to be scared of Narendra Modi,” the PM said.

Coining new acronyms for ‘BC’and ‘AD’–the two time periods, he used them to take a swipe at the Congress, saying the opposition party has known only two phases–‘Before Congress’ and ‘After Dynasty’.

Speaking from the floor of the Lok Sabha in his reply to the Motion of Thanks to President’s address, PM Modi launched an all-out attack on the Congress-led opposition, giving a point-to-point rebuttal on the charges levelled against the government.

On Rafale Fighter Jet Deal

Returning Rahul Gandhi’s fire over the Rafale jet deal, PM Modi said that the opposition party does not want the Air Force to be strong and questioned whether it was bidding for a company.

He also accused the Congress of rendering the Army handicapped due to which it was not in a position to launch surgical strikes.

“I am levelling a serious allegation. I want to say it on the floor of Parliament that the Indian National Congress doesn’t want our armed forces to be strong. They don’t want our security apparatus to be strong. Which companies are they bidding for that they are acting so shamefully,” he said.

PM Modi’s retort came hours after Gandhi, at a Congress event in Delhi, described him as a “darpok” (coward) and dared him to a five-minute face-to-face debate on issues such as Rafale and national security.

PM Modi wondered why advanced jets were not procured for 30 years when India’s neighbours were equipping themselves with latest weaponry.

“The nation will not forgive you for this sin,” the prime minister said.

Taking a swipe at the Congress, he said, “They are surprised that there is a defence deal without kickbacks… they assume that a defence deal cannot happen without commission.”

On Opposition’s Grand Alliance

PM Modi took potshots at attempts to cobble a grand alliance of opposition parties to take on the BJP, saying people do not want a “mahamilavat” (highly adulterated) government as they have seen how the NDA government which has a majority can deliver.

He took a dig at the recent opposition rally in Kolkata organised by the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, where leaders from 22 opposition parties came together and declared they will fight unitedly to oust the Narendra Modi government which has “passed its expiry date”.

“People do not want a ‘mahamilavat’ (adulterated) government of those who assembled in Kolkata,” he said.

On Congress’ Charge of Govt Destroying Institutions

PM Modi alleged that those who imposed Emergency, “bullied” the judiciary and insulted the Army were accusing him of destroying institutions.

“Congress imposed Emergency, but they say Modi is destroying institutions. Congress insults Army, calls the Army chief a ‘goonda’ but they say Modi is destroying institutions,” he said.

A former prime minister, a reference to Rajiv Gandhi, had called the Planning Commission a “bunch of jokers” while the Congress governments at the Centre misused Article 356 and dismissed close to 100 state governments, he said.

Former prime minister Indira Gandhi dismissed almost 50 of them, PM Modi added.

The Prime Minister said in a poll year, leaders have compulsions to make charges but lamented that while slamming Modi and BJP, some people “start attacking India”.

“In discussing Modi and in discussing BJP, they end up defaming the nation. That is why their leaders go to London and do press conferences to show India in bad light,” the prime minister said.

PM Modi made this remark in an apparent reference to a news conference in London by a self-proclaimed “cyber expert” who claimed that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls were rigged through “hacked” Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Congress leader Kapil Sibal was present at the conference last month through skype by an US-based Indian who identified himself as Syed Shuja.

On Charge of Rising Unemployment

Rejecting allegations of rising unemployment, PM Modi said crores of new jobs have been created in formal and unorganised sectors including transport, hotels and infrastructure.

PM Modi said informal sector accounts for 85-90 per cent while the formal sector provides only 10-15 per cent employment in the country.

The Prime Minister said in 15 months till November 2018, 1.8 crore people got enrolled in the Employees Provident Fund for the first time. Of these 64 per cent were below 28 years of age.

As many as 65 lakh employees were part of NPS system in 2014 which has increased to 1.2 crore by October 2018.

About 6.35 lakh new professionals have filed income tax returns in the last four year.

On Inflation

PM Modi blamed the erstwhile UPA-I and UPA-II governments for the rise in inflation rate, saying that “inflation and Congress have a strong bond”.

“Two songs became very popular, ‘Baaki kuch bacha to mehengayi maar gayi’ and ‘mehengai dayen khaaye jaat hai’ both these songs were in who’s tenure? First during Indira ji, and second during remote-control govt. Inflation and Congress have a strong bond,” said PM Modi.

On Loan Defaulters

In an apparent reference to liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in cases of defrauding banks and whose extradition from London is being pursued by India, he said, “People who have fled the country are crying on Twitter that ‘I had left with Rs 9,000 crore but my assets of Rs 13000 crore have been seized'”.