Rahul, BJP trade punches on Adani, disqualification

By, New Delhi
Mar 26, 2023 04:52 AM IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that he has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha because Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is scared of my next speech on Adani”.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that he has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha because Prime Minister Narendra Modi “is scared of my next speech on Adani”. Gandhi also said his disqualification would help the party as it has given the Congress new weapon.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (PTI Photo)(PTI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi (PTI Photo)(PTI)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back an hour later, accusing Gandhi of resorting to lies to defend a speech he made in London for trying to become a “martyr” to gain political mileage for the upcoming Karnataka assembly elections.

Gandhi made combative remarks at a press conference in the Capital, speaking up directly for the first time since he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Friday, and announced he will continue to ask who invested 20,000 crore in Adani Group through shell companies and the nature of the PM’s relationship with (Gautam) Adani, the chairman of the Adani Group.

“Please understand why I have been disqualified. I have been disqualified because the Prime Minister is scared of my next speech. He is scared of the next speech that is going to come on Adani. I have seen it in his eyes. So, he is terrified of the next speech that is going to come and they don’t want that speech to be in Parliament. That is the issue, that is why first the distraction, now the disqualification,” he said.

The Congress leader was disqualified after a Surat court convicted him and sentenced him to two years for criminal defamation. Keeping with the law, and a Supreme Court order in 2013, the Lok Sabha secretariat issued a notification saying Gandhi has been disqualified from March 23, the day of the court order.

Gandhi claimed the action against him will give “maximum benefit” to the Congress. “You understand democracy. The panic reaction they have done, Narendra Modi ji, the Opposition will get maximum benefit from this. They have given us weapons. Modi ji is in a panic that the matter will end. He got scared and nervous. They started the whole sequel. He has given the biggest weapon to the Opposition because now the public knows that Adani ji is a corrupt person. The question in people’s mind is, why the Prime Minister of India is trying to save this corrupt person?”

Prasad, at a news conference held shortly after, defended Modi. “We don’t have to defend Adani, BJP never defends Adani, but BJP doesn’t target anyone either,” Prasad said, accusing Gandhi of habitually lying.

Prasad listed international business deals the Adani group had signed when a Congress-led coalition government ruled India from 2004 to 2014 and its investments in states ruled by the Congress.

“So how is Adani group investing 650 billion rupees in a state ruled by your party?” Prasad asked, referring to an announcement by the conglomerate in October that it would invest in the solar power, cement and airport sectors in Rajasthan, which is ruled by the Congress.

Rejecting the BJP’s demand for an apology, Gandhi said: “I am not Savarkar, I am Gandhi, and Gandhis don’t apologise.”

“BJP people said that attack on Adani is attack on the country. That means in their mind the country is Adani, and Adani is the country,” he added.

The Congress said it will organise a satyagraha at statues of Mahatma Gandhi at state and district headquarters from 10am to 5pm on Sunday. In Delhi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will participate in the protest.

The Congress leader announced he will go back to the people — something his grandmother Indira Gandhi did after her disqualification in 1978. “Rahul Gandhi stayed in the public for four and a half months during Bharat Jodo Yatra and that is my job, I will continue to do that. In today’s India, the support that earlier political parties used to get from the media and other institutions is no longer available. So, there is only one way for the opposition parties, to go among the people,” the former Congress chief said on Saturday.

While he has been disqualified according to a verdict of the Supreme Court, the Congress leader maintained that the BJP’s intensified attacks and the disqualification came after he spoke about Adani during the debate on the President’s speech. “Please, don’t be confused about this matter. There is a deep relationship between Narendra Modi ji and Mr Adani. There is a question, 20,000 crore have suddenly arrived in Mr Adani’s shell companies, where has this money come from? Some of these companies are defence companies. Whose money is being spent on our drone and missile development? Why is the defence ministry not asking this question?” he said.

In the second half of the budget session that has been a near-washout so far, BJP lawmakers launched a rare protest against Gandhi, demanding his apology for what they said were anti-India comments he made in the UK, a charge Gandhi denied on Saturday. He said he had emphasised that it (attack on Indian democracy) is India’s problem and India must resolve it.

Gandhi said that the demand for his apology for his remarks and other attacks were aimed to distract from the real issue involving the Adani Group.

“I gave documents about the defence industry, (change of rules in) airports, statements made in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Immediately after that, the BJP started its work. I wrote to the Speaker with a detailed explanation with documents. After that, BJP ministers lied about me in Parliament. The whole game was to distract from real issues — whose money came in Adani Group?” Gandhi asked.

In the press conference, Gandhi said he wrote two letters to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and met him once to seek time to speak in the House. But he alleged that Birla merely smiled at his request.

The Speaker has not said anything on the issue since the controversy erupted.

Gandhi said he is not scared, even if he is permanently disqualified and sent to jail. Saying that it is his tapasya to speak the truth although “it is not fashionable in politics”, the Congress leader said he will write a letter to the people of Wayanad, which he represented, on his disqualification as they are like his family.

He evaded an answer on the ordinance he had dubbed as complete nonsense in 2013 and when asked about the Adani Group’s investments in Congress-ruled states. He reiterated the issue was the source of the 20,000 crore investments, and said that if Congress chief ministers are involved, they can be sent to jail.

Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot were present on the stage with Gandhi.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, June 07, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals