By: Shubham Ghosh
The remarks made by Rahul Gandhi, one of India’s main opposition leaders during his recent tour of the UK, have raised a storm in India’s political circles.
A day after prime minister Narendra Modi indirectly lashed out at the Wayanad parliamentarian over his view that “Indian democracy coming undone” at a rally in the southern state of Karnataka on Sunday (12), the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought an apology in the parliament from the 52-year-old leader.
The Congress hit back, saying the saffron party was trying to divert focus from the Adani-Hindenburg controversy.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh launched a scathing attack on Gandhi on Monday (13) soon after the parliamentarians assembled in the parliament for the second phase of the budget session. He condemned the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha or Lower House of the Indian parliament and asked the latter to apologise saying he insulted India abroad.
“Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of this House, insulted India in London. I demand that his statements should be condemned by all members of this House and he should be asked to apologise to the nation,” Singh said.
In Rajya Sabha or Upper House, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said it was “shameful” that a senior leader insulted Indian democracy on foreign soil.
As several other BJP parliamentarians raised their voices against Gandhi, the Congress retaliated, accusing Modi of denigrating past governments on foreign soil. The ruckus that followed resulted in adjournment of the Lower House.
“Those crushing and destroying democracy are talking of saving it,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, told reporters later.
The Aam Aadmi Party and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi also backed the Congress and participated in the joint opposition press conference. The Trinamool Congress, another major anti-BJP force, stayed away, NDTV reported.
On Sunday, Modi said taking a dig at Gandhi that the remarks on democracy in India were an attack on the people of India, Karnataka and God.
“It is unfortunate that from the soil of London, questions are being raised on Indian democracy,” Modi said during his visit to Karnataka where he laid foundation stones for a number of projects.
“These people are insulting Bhagwan Basaveshwara, the people of Karnataka and the people of India. Karnataka must stay away from such people,” he added in his address in the state, where assembly elections are due this year.
“The entire world studies this (Indian) democratic system. And there are many such other things for which we can say that India is not only the largest democracy but the mother of democracy… There is no force that can weaken Indian democracy. But despite that, there are constant attempts by some people to attack Indian democracy,” the prime minister said.