‘Anti-India forces speak same language’: Rijiju attacks Rahul Gandhi

Mar 17, 2023 01:20 AM IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has sought an apology from Gandhi for “defaming” the country and its democratic institutions through his comments during his visit to the UK, where he said there is no freedom of speech in India.

Launching a broadside against Congress lawmaker, Rahul Gandhi for his comments that Indian democracy was under threat, union minister, Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said anti-India forces speak the same language, even as the government stepped up pressure on the former to apologise.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju. (PTI)
Union minister Kiren Rijiju. (PTI)

“What Rahul Gandhi says is the same language used by those who are anti-India both in the country and outside,” said Rijiju, addressing the media.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government has sought an apology from Gandhi for “defaming” the country and its democratic institutions through his comments during his visit to the UK, where he said there is no freedom of speech in India. It maintains that Gandhi’s comments insulted the judiciary, Parliament, and the media.

Also read | ‘Images are self explanatory’: Congress on Delhi Police notice to Rahul Gandhi

BJP lawmaker, Nishikant Dubey has also written to Lok Sabha speaker, Om Birla, seeking the constitution of a special parliamentary committee to inquire into Gandhi’s “contemptuous” remarks and consider if he should be expelled from the House. Dubey wants the committee to be modelled on the one that was set up to investigate the cash-for-votes scam during the UPA-I government in 2008.

In his letter, Dubey said he is giving notice under Rule 223 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha on the “contemptuous and unbecoming behaviour” of the MP over his remarks in London and said the conduct of the MP is “required to be investigated thoroughly either by the Privileges Committee or by a special committee.”

“Thereafter, House should consider whether such a member should be expelled from the House to protect the esteem of parliament and other democratic institutions and give a clear message that no one takes the pride and respect of high institutions for a ride in future,” the letter added.

While the opposition has accused the government of not allowing Parliament to function by raising the issue of Gandhi’s apology in both Houses, Rijiju said no one can stay silent when it comes to the national interest. “Anything related to the nation is a matter of concern for all,” Rijiju said.

He added the government and BJP are not concerned by whatever Gandhi says and how it affects his own party, but will not allow anyone to “defame” the country.

“ If the party sinks because of him, it is not our concern, but when he tries to cause harm to the country, we cannot stay silent,” Rijiju said.

In response to the Congress’s insistence that Gandhi did not defame the nation and therefore there was no question of apology, Rijiju said, “If Congress feels it is nothing serious, then they do not deserve to represent a certain section of people in Parliament. They should be forever indebted to the people of India who gave them maximum opportunity to serve the country.”

He also rejected the Congress’s allegation that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi spoke against the country during his visits abroad. Rijiju said Modi did not defame the country and only said the “government of that time was corrupt and inefficient.”

Rijiju, who holds the portfolio of law, said Gandhi lied abroad about not being allowed to speak in Parliament. “Everyone saw and heard him during the first half of the budget session; he lied in Parliament and kept rules aside. Then in London, he claimed he is not allowed to speak in Parliament. Two, he said he cannot address students in colleges and universities; everyone here has seen how he conducted the [Bharat Jodo] Yatra and yet he goes abroad and says he is not allowed. The person who speaks the most in India is the one who claims he is not allowed to speak.”

The law minister rejected the perception that minorities in India are under attack. “I am a minority... he [Gandhi] lied that the Prime Minister thinks Sikhs are second-class citizens. Look at the atrocities against minorities in our neighbourhood.”

Asked whether he agrees with his colleague Giriraj Singh’s comment that Gandhi’s statements were seditious, Rijiju said, “What he [Gandhi] has said is a bigger violation...It is a violation of the oath. He has insulted the Constitution, so he should apologise to the nation.”

BJP leaders also said Gandhi should “first demonstrate” his regret even as he met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla seeking permission to speak in the House.

Union minister Piyush Goyal said Gandhi has levelled “absolutely baseless and false allegations without any iota of truth.”

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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