NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking on the motion of thanks to the Presidents address to Parliament, decided to adopt a completely confrontationist, bordering on the hostile, position against the Opposition. In a speech delivered with the verve of his public rallies with similar gesticulations, he had the Congress and others on their feet, shouting slogans against him and his government for the entire duration of his two hour address.

Unperturbed, the PM continued regardless, with the treasury benches thumping their desks and standing up in applause when he ended his speech. Clearly worked up by the spate of criticism from the Opposition parties PM Modi launched a frontal attack on the Congress, accusing it of partitioning the country, maintaining that if Sardar Patel had been the first Prime Minister “Kashmir would have been ours.”

PM Modi did not use the occasion to reach out to the Lok Sabha in its entirety, and strike a statesman like chord. Instead from the word go he made it clear that he was speaking as the PM of the treasury benches, with the Congress and the Opposition in his sights as it were. His speech was more suited for public rallies, with barbs and allegations eclipsing substance, and ensured an angry response from the Opposition that did not walk out but stayed in the Lok Sabha to shout the Prime Minister down.

Almost at the onset after listing a few achievements of the government---that interspersed his speech off an on--- PM Modi said that it was unfortunate that even after 70 years of Independence the people had to suffer for the ‘sins’ of the Congress every single day.

The Prime Minister attacked the Congress for messing up the reorganisation of Andhra Pradesh as it did this in a hurry and without thought. And again later added, “we cannot forget how the Congress insulted Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, a proud son of Andhra Pradesh. They humiliated him. Nobody in India needs lessons on democracy from the Congress Party” The references to Andhra Pradesh in particular came in the wake of state Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s vocal criticism of its ally in government, the BJP over the budget with a senior leader declaring, “this is war.”

Faced with rebellion in the NDA ranks, the PM reminded the House of the Congress party’s anti-federal stance. “How did the Congress act in Kerala, how did they treat the Akali Dal in Punjab, how did they behave in Tamil Nadu? Why did Congress dismiss so many state government at their will. This is no commitment to democracy,” he claimed.

And again a direct hit at Congress president Rajiv Gandhi in the same context of federalism and democracy. “When Rajiv Gandhi landed in Hyderabad, how did he behave with a Congress leader Mr. T Anjaiah. He humiliated a big leader, who did not belong to a privileged background,” the Prime Minister of India said.

PM Modi attacked the Congress for partitioning the country “for selfish ends.”"For electoral reasons and petty gains, even 70 years ago, the Congress divided the nation... For selfish gains 125 crore Indians suffer even today,” he maintained. He repeated the same charge again saying in reference to the Congress, “this is the same party that divided India.”

The anger was palpable as the Prime Minister drove into the Congress party. From partitioning India, to establishing dynastic rule (like the Mughals that he mentioned), to democracy, corruption, he singled out the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family out specifically. He said that India did not get democracy because of Nehru, as the Congress wanted the nation to believe. “Please look at our rich history. There are many examples of rich democratic traditions that date back centuries ago. Democracy is integral to this nation and is in our culture” he said.

On the family he alleged that India would have been far ahead of its current position if the Congress had worked “sincerely and honestly” for the people of the country. But instead, “all you were interested in was to promote one person and his family,” he said.”What started from Independence has now become the only thing that Congress does - defend one family,” he added. “In December, did we witness an 'election' or coronation for the post of Congress President?” the PM asked.

He then went on to blame the Congress for the complete lack of development over the past 70 years, citing examples to prove how his government and the BJP had tried to overturn this. ‘I know it pains you to hear all this, but the people of this nation already gave you a bitter pill to swallow few years ago. Many of you have still not come to terms with it, but hear some more” he said.

The Prime Minister attacked the Congress on corruption. “I have proof of how the Congress looted and plundered India. You will pay for your sins. Time has come for you to be held accountable and answerable to the people of India” he said.

The BJP will be facing the Congress in most of the major state elections coming up, the first being Karnataka where the Chief Minister has been countering every single statement by the PM and other top leaders on the polls. The PM’s speech comes in the wake of the BJP defeat in three crucial bypolls in Rajasthan that were won by the Congress party. There has been a major shift in approach in the Congress since the Gujarat polls where the party increased its tally dramatically to about 80 seats, with the approach of its top leaders being more aggressive and direct. Since the Gujarat polls where Rahul Gandhi got a positive response, his social media team has earned him more traction than the PM himself. The party has been directly confronting the Prime Minister with Rahul Gandhi’s latest tweets a sample of the use of humour to score political points:

August 2015, Mr Modi claims to create history by signing the NAGA accord. Feb 2018, Naga Accord is still nowhere to be found. Modi ji is the first ever Indian PM whose words don't mean anything. #CantFindTheAccord

Top Secret (Not for Distribution) RM says the price negotiated for each RAFALE jet by the PM and his "reliable" buddy is a state secret. Action Points 1.Informing Parliament about the price is a national security threat 2.Brand all who ask, Anti National #TheGreatRafaleMystery

Commentators who have written for PM Modi in recent years, seem to now be seeing a revival of the Congress under Rahul Gandhi. A younger, more cohesive Congress seems to have emerged in recent months with the instructions being to ‘listen to the people, not the bosses’. The result has been visible in Gujarat, and more recently in Rajasthan. Karnataka is the next major step, but here too despite the big rally by Prime Minister in Bengaluru this Sunday, reports do not place the BJP ahead of the Congress as yet. It is becoming clearer that the Congress that seemed to be completely out of the picture is stirring again, with the movements being watched with renewed interest by the corporates that had shifted loyalities since 2014.

PM Modi, who is not a believer in wasting opportunity, thus used the address in the Lok Sabha to hit out at the Congress and remind the House and indeed the nation of all the accumulated ---as he put it-- ‘sins’ of the Congress party. His was a fiery political speech, and achieved what he had intended, a divided and hostile House with the battlelines for the election year drawn.