Jairam Ramesh's 'cheerleader' jibe at Jagdeep Dhankhar for criticising Rahul Gandhi

Mar 10, 2023 07:53 AM IST

On Rahul Gandhi's claim that microphones are turned off in Parliament, Jagdeep Dhankhar had said he would be on the “wrong side” of the Constitution if he stayed silent on the issue.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has lashed out at Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar for criticising Rahul Gandhi's remarks in London, saying that the Rajya Sabha Chairman is an umpire and cannot be a cheerleader for any ruling dispensation.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh during a press conference. (PTI File)
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh during a press conference. (PTI File)

Attacking Gandhi for his allegations that microphones are turned off in Parliament, Dhankhar had said he would be on the “wrong side” of the Constitution if he stayed silent on the issue.

In a statement, Ramesh, Congress general secretary in-charge communications, that at an event on Thursday to mark the launch of a book, the vice president made certain remarks on Gandhi's speech delivered in the UK.

"There are certain offices which require us to shed our prejudices, our party allegiances and compel us to rid ourselves of whatever propaganda we may have imbibed along the way.

"The office of the Vice President of India, an office on which the Constitution bestows the additional responsibility of being the Chair of the Rajya Sabha, is foremost amongst these," Ramesh said.

The vice president's statement on Gandhi, therefore, was surprising to say the least, the senior Congress leader said.

"He (Dhankhar) rushed to the defence of a government from which he is constitutionally required to be at arms-length and in a manner that was both confusing as well as disappointing," Ramesh said.

He said Gandhi has not said anything abroad that he has not said several times here. “And unlike certain other individuals, his stand does not vary depending on where he sits,” Ramesh said.

Ramesh also argued that Gandhi's statement was factual and representative of the reality on the ground.

"Over the last two weeks, more than twelve Members of Parliament belonging to Opposition Parties have been served with Breach of Privilege Notices for protesting the suppression of their voices in Parliament on an issue that is inconvenient to the ruling regime," he said.

Over the last eight years, channels and newspapers have been blacked out, raided, and intimidated to the point that the only voice that is carried is that of the government, Ramesh alleged.

Institutions that maintained a studied distance from the governments of the past are now subordinated to the point that they choke on any order or finding adversarial to the ruling regime, he claimed.

"Those who dissent are penalised. There may be no declaration of emergency but make no mistake, the actions of this regime are not those of a secure government that respects the Constitution," Ramesh said.

“We at the Indian National Congress have been the most consistent voice in opposition to this regime and will continue to do so,” Ramesh said.

“The Chairman, however, is an umpire, a referee, a friend, philosopher and guide to all. He cannot be a cheerleader for any ruling dispensation. History measures leaders not on the zealousness with which they defended their party, but the dignity with which they performed their roles in the service of the people,” the Congress general secretary said.

Dhankhar, speaking at an event to launch veteran Congress leader and former parliamentarian Karan Singh's book on the Mundaka Upanishad, spoke extensively on Gandhi's remarks made in London.

"The world is applauding our historic accomplishments and functional, vibrant democracy. Some amongst us, including parliamentarians, in overdrive are engaged in thoughtless, unfair denigration of our well nurtured democratic values," he said.

On Monday, Gandhi told British parliamentarians in London that functioning microphones in the Lok Sabha are often silenced against the Opposition. He made the comment during an event organised by veteran Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma in the Grand Committee Room within the House of Commons complex.

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