Rahul, BJP MPs spar at panel meet chaired by Jaishankar. Here's what happened

Mar 20, 2023 08:37 AM IST

The BJP leaders have launched a major offensive against Rahul Gandhi demanding a public apology from him for what it alleged has insulted the country and its institutions on foreign soil.

While a parliamentary consultative committee meeting on external affairs ended with what Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said was an “amicable group photograph”, the meeting reportedly saw acrimonious exchanges after BJP members questioned Rahul Gandhi's remarks on Indian democracy during his UK visit. BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao claimed at the meeting, where the principal agenda was India's G20 presidency, that “concerted efforts were underway to undermine the country,” reported PTI.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and other leaders after the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting for External Affairs on India's G20 Presidency.(PTI)
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and other leaders after the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting for External Affairs on India's G20 Presidency.(PTI)

To make his point, the BJP MP cited the damaging Hindenburg report on industrialist Gautam Adani, recent remarks by George Soros on Indian democracy and the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the PTI report.

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Rao, without naming Rahul Gandhi, also said, "Some people have spoken things...but the real blot on Indian democracy was the Emergency."

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi argued that Indian democracy, strong as it is, "should not get deterred by random comments of people or some documentary".

Rahul Gandhi reportedly said he wanted to respond since BJP members had spoken about him. Jaishankar, who was chairing the parliamentary panel meet, urged Gandhi to reserve his remarks on the subject for the Parliament but the latter insisted on his right to respond, reported PTI.

The former Congress chief said "attack on India's democracy was evident" but stressed that he never sought any foreign intervention in the matter, as per PTI report. He also asked whether or not the "ED was targeting opposition leaders only".

Nominated BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani reportedly intervened and said the Congress leader should not bring his "personal angst into a meeting meant to discuss G20". To which Gandhi argued that it was the BJP members who veered from the main topic, prompting a reply.

Tharoor later tweeted: "A good meeting of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs today on India’s foreign policy objectives in the G20 was somewhat marred by some members needlessly politicising the discussion. Rahul Gandhi robustly responded to them and it ended with an amicable group photograph."

Priyanka Chaturvedi, however, didn't mention the reported exchanges while thanking Jaishankar and India's foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra for keeping the committee updated on important issues with respect to external affairs.

“Thank you Hon FM @DrSJaishankar ji and Foreign Secy @AmbVMKwatra ji for keeping the consultative committee updated on issues of importance wrt External Affairs. Was interesting to get insights on India’s G20 Presidency,” she tweeted.

(With PTI inputs)

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