“If the Indian democracy was functioning, I would be able to say my piece in parliament: Rahul Gandhi
NEW DELHI : “If the Indian democracy was functioning, I would be able to say my piece in parliament. What you are seeing is a test of the Indian democracy. Whether an MP is going to be given the same space as those four ministers were given when they raised allegations against me,” said Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Gandhi said he had spoken with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla about permission to speak in the house. “I asked the Speaker for time to speak in the House. It is my right to speak on the floor of the House,” he said, claiming that Mr Birla was “noncommittal” and “smiled”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who attended the second half of the Budget session for the first time Thursday after returning to the country, said whether he will be allowed to speak on the floor of the House or told to “shut up” would be the “test of Indian democracy”. Addressing the press at the Congress headquarters, Rahul Gandhi said he met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in Parliament House and conveyed his position that as an elected MP he reserves the “right to speak”, particularly since “four ministers” have leveled allegations against him over the last few days.
Rahul Gandhi today said he “hoped” that he would be allowed to speak in parliament on the BJP’s allegation that he insulted the country abroad by questioning the state of democracy. “But I don’t think they will let me speak,” the Congress leader told reporters, hours after his brief appearance in parliament. Rahul Gandhi attended Lok Sabha for the first time since the massive row erupted over his comments in London, with at least four Union Ministers demanding his apology in and outside parliament.
“Today, within one minute of my coming to the House, they adjourned it…I went to parliament with the idea of putting what I feel on the floor of the house,” he said.The Congress leader said the row over his London remarks was “just a distraction” from the questions he had raised in his speech in parliament last month. “I have a fundamental question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationship with Gautam Adani. The government and the PM are scared about the Adani issue, therefore this entire controversy has been prepared,” he said.
Speaking to a News Channel earlier today, Rahul Gandhi denied that he had made any anti-India speech.On the BJP’s allegation that he insulted the nation on foreign soil, the Congress MP said: “I will speak inside the House if they allow me to.” Asked whether he would apologise, Mr Gandhi smiled.
Several Union Ministers have demanded that Mr Gandhi apologise to the nation for his speeches in the UK, seen to be critical of the government. “The person who speaks the most in this country, and targets the government day and night, says abroad that he does not have the freedom to speak in India,” Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told reporters. “Rahul Gandhi can sink the Congress, we don’t care. But if he tries to harm or insult the nation, we as citizens cannot be silent. Just because the country has rejected the Congress leadership, doesn’t mean he can tarnish the nation abroad,” he added.The Law Minister said Rahul Gandhi spoke the language of anti-India forces.
“It is very sad that an MP lowers the prestige of parliament. Anti-India forces all speak the same language. All anti-India gang members talk on same lines. They repeat whatever Rahul Gandhi says,” Mr Rijiju railed. The Congress has ruled out an apology, pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often attacked the Congress on his trips abroad.
“I want to ask those who are seeking an apology that Modiji went to five-six countries and there he (Modi) humiliated our country saying it was a sin to be born in India, now these people same people are curbing freedom of expression,” Mr Kharge said. At a lecture at Cambridge University, the Congress MP said the Indian democracy is under pressure and opposition voices are being stifled.
Rahul Gandhi had said, “Everybody knows and it’s been in the news a lot that Indian democracy is under pressure and under attack. I am an Opposition leader in India, we are navigating that (Opposition) space. The institutional framework which is required for democracy is Parliament, free press, and the judiciary, just the idea of mobilisation, and moving around all are getting constrained. So, we are facing an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy.”
The Congress and other opposition parties have accused the ruling BJP of trying to deflect attention from the Adani-Hindenburg row and ducking demands for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the allegations of Hindenburg against the Adani Group. The Adani Group has strongly denied allegations of stock fraud and share price manipulation.
Turning up the heat on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his remarks in the UK on Indian democracy, the ruling BJP has initiated moves to suspend him from Lok Sabha if he does not apologise in the House. The party has already approached Speaker Om Birla, seeking to form a special committee to explore the possibility of suspending the Wayanad MP from the House. BJP sources said the matter is “not just a privilege issue, it’s much beyond that”.
During a discussion at the Chatham House think tank in London, he said: “Democracy in India is a global, public good. It impacts way further than our boundaries. If Indian democracy collapses, in my view, democracy on the planet suffers a very serious, possibly fatal blow. So, it is important for you too. It is not just important for us. We will deal with our problem, but you must be aware that this problem is going to play out on a global scale.”
He attributed this dangerous development to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a fundamentalist, fascist organisation, which, the Congress leader claimed, has captured pretty much all of India’s institutions.
Debunking the lies, Sam Pitroda, who was present at the Chatham House discussion, has said in a Facebook post:
“Please, stop promoting and propagating lies about what Rahul Gandhi said in London. For clarification please, note that Rahul Gandhi basically said the following 1. Indian Democracy is Global Public Good. 2. The state of democracy in India is of concern. 3. It is an Indian problem, and we will deal with it. He never invited any foreign countries to help.”
Bureau Report with Media Inputs).