Press Trust of india

Cong, BJP trade barbs over Rahul’s ‘democracy under attack’ remarks; govt demands apology

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New Delhi: The parliamentary proceedings were stalled on Monday following uproarious scenes in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over Rahul Gandhi’s “democracy under attack” remarks in the UK, with senior BJP ministers seeking an apology over the comments and the Congress countering it with its JPC demand on the Adani issue.
While in Lok Sabha, Defence Minister and Deputy Leader of the House Rajnath Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi led the government’s charge against Gandhi, Union minister Piyush Goyal in Rajya Sabha demanded that Gandhi’s statements be condemned by the Upper House.
Kharge objected to Goyal’s statements, citing two previous rulings of the House, and asked Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to expunge the remarks of the leader of the House. Speaking to the media outside Parliament, Kharge hit back at the government for raising the issue of Gandhi’s remarks in Parliament, saying those “crushing” democracy are talking of saving it.
The BJP onslaught came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashed out at the Wayanad MP during an event in poll-bound Karnataka for his comments on democracy in India, saying the remarks were an affront to its people.
After obituary references in Lok Sabha, Singh stood up and charged that Gandhi has tried to defame India in London through his remarks on Indian democracy.
“Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of the Lok Sabha, had gone to London and tried to ‘discredit’ India and said the democratic system in India is completely crumbling. He also said that foreign powers should save India’s democracy. He tried to ‘deeply hurt’ India’s honour and prestige,” he said.
During his recent visit to the UK, Gandhi at various interactions alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and that there is a “full-scale assault” on the institutions of the country. Gandhi had also told British parliamentarians in London that microphones were often ‘turned off’ in the Lok Sabha when any opposition member raises important issues.
Singh also requested Speaker Om Birla that the House should condemn Gandhi’s remarks and the Congress leader be directed to tender an apology.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi asked where was democracy when fundamental rights were “trampled” during the Emergency and where was democracy when an ordinance, duly approved by the Union Cabinet, was torn.
Joshi said he condemns Gandhi for “seeking the intervention of foreign powers like the US and Europe”.
“If he has some shame, he should come to this House and tender an apology. This is our demand,” he said.
On his part, Birla said democracy in India is strong and getting stronger.
“Let the House function properly. Everyone will get an opportunity. Slogan-shouting is not good. People of this country have great faith in our democracy. Even foreign MPs and chairs, who often visit us, accept this,”he said.
Later in the day, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote to Birla and said both Singh and Joshi made “unsubstantiated” remarks against Gandhi without prior notice and no opportunity was accorded to the members of his party to refute the allegations.
He sought expunction of the remarks of Singh and Joshi.
Kharge also took out a protest march from the Parliament House complex to Vijay Chowk along with MPs of other opposition parties, including those of the BRS, Left parties and AAP, alleging that there was no rule of law and that Prime Minister Modi was running the country like a “dictator”.
Talking to reporters at Vijay Chowk, Kharge said,”they (BJP) are crushing and destroying democracy and are talking of saving democracy and the country’s pride. There is no place for the Constitution in Modi ji’s regime.”
“They are ‘suppressing’ opposition parties through ‘misuse’ of agencies. These people are talking about democracy, nationalism and the country’s pride. This is like ‘ulta chor kotwal ko daante’ (pot calling the kettle black),” the Congress chief alleged.
While defending Gandhi’s remarks, he claimed that autonomous bodies in the country were being suppressed and democracy was being “crushed” under the BJP regime and alleged that PM Modi has “ridiculed” India abroad several times and cited examples of his speeches in China, South Korea, Canada and UAE.
Kharge also claimed that all this is being done by the government to divert attention from the Adani-Hindenburg issue.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day as ruling BJP and opposition MPs traded charges over Gandhi’s remarks.
As the Upper House, which was adjourned in the pre-lunch session, resumed, Goyal said he had raised a serious matter in the morning regarding a senior Congress leader going abroad and stating that “democracy is in danger” in India and even sought the US and Europe to interfere in the country’s affairs.
This House must condemn remarks by such a person, Goyal said without taking Gandhi’s name.
Kharge cited a ruling given by late V V Giri on June 19, 1967, that “a member of one House should not use the freedom of speech on the floor of the House to make allegations or charge against the members of the other House” and another one made on March 17, 1983, by the then Vice-Chairman in favour of L K Advani which stated that “before referring to a member of the other House, one has to exercise a lot of care and caution”.
“Therefore, whatever he (Goyal) said should be expunged,” Kharge said.
The government and Opposition continued to trade barbs outside the House as well.
Union minister Giriraj Singh sought action against Gandhi for his remarks and alleged that he spoke like the “tukde-tukde gang” during his visit to the UK.
He also demanded that Rahul Gandhi should be booked under sedition law.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Union Minister Bhupender Yadav said,”Gandhi made an insulting speech against Indian democracy. And now an attempt to insult the Indian parliament that was also visible in their conduct in parliament…Gandhi should apologise for insulting the Indian parliament.”
Yadav termed Gandhi’s remarks as “white lies” and said it does not suit an MP to speak lies about Parliament and Indian democracy.
In a tweet, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “Parliament adjourned for the day because the government simply didn’t want it to function. It created a completely bogus diversion to keep attention away from combined Opposition demand for JPC into PM-linked Adani Maha Mega Scam.”

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