BJP, Congress chiefs lock horns over Rahul Gandhi's democracy remarks
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda and the Congress party chief Mallikarjun Kharge crossed swords on Friday, with the former, in a statement questioning Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s motives in raising questions about India’s democracy on foreign soil.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president JP Nadda and the Congress party chief Mallikarjun Kharge crossed swords on Friday, with the former, in a statement questioning Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s motives in raising questions about India’s democracy on foreign soil, and the latter, in a series of tweets , defending Gandhi as a “patriot” and seeking an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for badmouthing Indians on trips to China, Siouth Korea and the US.
This is the first time the two party chiefs have engaged over an issue that has rocked Parliament since the budget session resumed on March 13.
The BJP has demanded Gandhi’s apology for his comments in London, where he claimed democracy in India is under threat. It has maintained Gandhi’s comments insulted and undermined Indian Parliament, judiciary, and the media. The party also threatened to take action within the parliamentary framework if Gandhi doesn’t apologize in Parliament.
In a statement, Nadda said Gandhi had sought the intervention of other countries in India’s internal matters and tgermed it an attack on the country’s sovereignty. “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi, what are his intentions in urging Europe and America to interfere in India’s domestic matters.”
Referring to India as the “mother of democracy,” Nadda said no power in the world can harm the democratic legacy of India. “Today, no one listens to your party [Congress] in the country, and the public does not trust you. This is the reason why your party has been nearly wiped off,” Nadda said, addressing Gandhi in his statement.
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He added that there is a global acknowledgment of India’s achievements including in the economic sector. “Italian PM [Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni] has called PM [Narendra] Modi the most lovable PM (in the world). From World Bank to IMF [International Monetary Fund], all are appreciating development in India. German Chancellor [Olaf Scholz] has said India’s development is incredible. Japan, Australia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia are appreciating PM Modi’s leadership . But Rahul Gandhi, you are disrespecting the nation,” Nadda said.
Later in the day, at an event in New Delhi, Union home minister Amit Shah also referred to the disruptions in Parliament and said that while there was freedom of speech for all in the House, rules had to be maintained. “You cannot speak like you do on the road. Debate has to follow rules. If such a basic concept is not clear, then what can we do... I agree that Parliament should run...both sides should discuss before the Speaker,” he said.
Condemning Nadda’s attack on Gandhi, Kharge reiterated his party’s claims that PM Narendra Modi insulted Indians in his trip to China, South Korea and the US. “They should know that Modi ji went to China, went to America, went to South Korea… insulted the citizens of India. Modi ji should apologise. There is no question of our apologizing,” Kharge said.
In a series of tweets, Kharge said, “Those who did not contribute even an iota in the Freedom Struggle, they are the real anti-nationals. They are talking all these things to hide the horrifying unemployment, back-breaking price rise and scam of the “best friend” of BJP and to divert attention from these issues.”
In parliament, the treasury benches have been demanding Gandhi’s apology while the Opposition has been asking for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into research firm Hindenburg’s allegations of fraud and stock manipulation by the Adani Group, seen as close to Prime Minister Modi.
With the first week of the second half of the budget session ending without much business, parliament officials indicated that the government will turn its focus on the passage of the demand for grants for all ministries—which have to be passed before the end of the financial year on March 31.