Smriti Irani Rahul Gandhi
Smriti Irani also highlighted the successes of the women and child development ministry over the past nine years of BJP government at the press meet | Video grab: Twitter/ANI

Will get washed away like Bihar bridge: Smriti Irani’s jibe over Opposition meet

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BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani on Thursday (June 8) took a dig at the Opposition over its Patna meeting on June 23 and at Rahul Gandhi over his recent Mohabbat ki Dukaan (Shop of Love) event in the US.

She said the Opposition parties may be looking for support in each other, but their wish will get washed away in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls like the Rs 1,750-crore bridge that collapsed in Bihar recently.

On Mohabbat ki Dukaan

Attacking Rahul Gandhi, Irani asked whether his “mohabbat” (love) included “killing of Sikhs, kidnapping of women in Rajasthan, denouncing the Hindu way of life, partnering with those who want to bring India to a standstill, and seeking outside intervention to harm India’s democracy”.

“What kind of love is this which is not for the country but for your politics. It does not say anything when The Kerala Story is shown,” she said at a press conference.

“Does this love not extend to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she asked, lauding his spirit of “service”, and added that she would be surprised if the Congress has any kind word for him.

Also read: Bihar bridge collapse: Construction firm show caused; exec engineer suspended

“It is incumbent upon the Congress to attack the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The mohabbat of the Congress doesn’t extend to him,” the Union minister for women and child development said.

On protection of minorities

Hitting back at Gandhi’s charge that minorities were not being treated fairly by the government, she said the “Gandhi khandan (dynasty)” calls itself the “protector of minorities” but the expenditure on merit-cum-means scholarship was Rs 860 crore under the Congress-led UPA government, while it is Rs 2,691 crore under the Modi government.

On another allocation under the Minority Affairs Ministry, a portfolio she holds, she said it has risen to Rs 31,450 crore now from Rs 12,000 crore under the UPA. “These statistics tell the truth about the Congress,” Irani said.

With the ruling BJP often accusing the Congress of seeking outside intervention to attack the Modi government, Irani said such activities of the Opposition party leadership will increase as the 2024 national polls approach. It is determined to strike a blow to the country’s democratic process in its lust for power, she said.

Also read: Opposition’s Patna meet on June 23; Rahul, Stalin, Mamata, Pawar, Kejriwal to attend

On Opposition meet

Asked about the Opposition meeting in Patna on June 23 in its efforts to forge unity, Irani hit back, “They are looking for support in each other, as they are unable to stand on their own feet. They are coming together at a place where a Rs 1,750-crore structure washed away. Their wishes will wash away in a similar way in 2024.”

The bridge collapse has drawn a lot of flak, and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered an inquiry.

Questioning the Congress’s claim about crumbling relations between the Centre and states, she said two chief ministers of the party had recently attended a NITI Aayog meeting in which Modi also participated.

To a question about the Opposition party’s attack on her, Irani said mockingly that the Sun will rise in the south if it stops targeting her.

On successes of her ministry

Highlighting the successes of the women and child development ministry over the past nine years of BJP government, Irani said a nutrition campaign involving 18 ministries was launched for the first time and measuring devices were made available in every anganwadi centre to constantly assess children’s health.

Every anganwadi centre in the country was connected with smart phones and 11 lakh smart phones have so far been distributed among workers, while over nine crore beneficiaries are enjoying the benefits of the Poshan Tracker scheme, she said.

Also read: Patna braces for Opposition meet, and Nitish Kumar has a big condition

As part of her ministry’s endeavour to ensure police verification of those working at establishments catering to children, a database of over 12 lakh alleged sexual offenders has been created, she said.

Women’s empowerment

The government is dedicated to women’s empowerment, Irani said, noting that over 27 crore Jan Dhan bank accounts have been opened and 27.7 crore Mudra loans distributed among women so far.

Maternity leave has been extended to 26 weeks, while Sukanya Samridhi bank accounts were opened for 3.18 crore girl children, she added.

Over 13,550 help desks for women have been opened in police stations across the country and over 1,023 fast tracks opened to ensure speedy justice for women victims of crimes, she said.

(With agency inputs)

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