Rahul apology vs Adani JPC   demands: Slugfest continues

| | New Delhi
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Rahul apology vs Adani JPC   demands: Slugfest continues

Saturday, 18 March 2023 | Deepak K Upreti | New Delhi

The Lok Sabha proceedings were again adjourned for the day on Friday due to slogan shouting by the Opposition and protests by the ruling party members over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “democracy-under-attack” remarks made in London recently.

BJP president JP Nadda led his party’s attack on Rahul, charging him with becoming a “permanent part of the anti-India toolkit” that seeks a weak Government here so as to exploit it for its benefits.

In a statement, Nadda accused Rahul of speaking the language of “anti-India” George Soros, a billionaire financier, and alleged that the Congress and the “so-called Left liberals” have become a part of the “deep state” conspiracy involving foreign forces against the country.

Meanwhile, sources in the BJP said they won’t let Rahul speak in Parliament unless he apologises for his London remarks.

Proceedings on Sansad TV were mostly inaudible. While Parliament sources said it was the result of a “technical glitch”, several Congress leaders alleged that proceedings were “muted” when its MPs raised slogans demanding that Rahul be allowed to speak, and asked if this was democracy.

This was for the fifth consecutive day that the House did not function ever since the second half of the Budget session began on March 13.

As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled for the day, some Congress members trooped to the Well of the House shouting slogans and demanded that Rahul be allowed to speak in the House. They also demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into alleged stock manipulation by the Adani Group, a business conglomerate headed by industrialist Gautam Adani.

The members of the Treasury Benches also raised counter-slogans from their seats, demanding an apology from Gandhi for his remarks.

The turmoil continued for about 20 minutes, with Speaker Om Birla urging the members to allow the House to function smoothly.

“Members, I appeal to you to allow the House to run smoothly. People did not send you here to do this. I will give everyone an opportunity to speak, but the House has to be in order,” he said.

The protesting members ignored his pleas and the speaker adjourned the House for the day. It will meet again on March 20.

In a tweet, the Congress alleged that the proceedings were “muted” when its MPs raised slogans demanding that Gandhi be allowed to speak. Is this democracy, the party asked.

Tagging this tweet, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posted: “Democracy’ in words but ‘dictatorship’ in action.”

Hitting out at the Government, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet in Hindi, “Question of the people of the country: What is the relationship between the Prime Minister and Gautam Adani? Why is the Prime Minister not getting the allegations levelled against him (Adani) investigated? BJP Government’s answer -- Mute Modi. Mute Parliament.”

“What is the reason that on hearing the questions related to Adani and the Prime Minister, the entire BJP goes into silent mode,” she asked.

Taking a dig at the Government, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “The muting of sound on @sansad_tv is a new technique. You don’t need to switch off individual microphones if you can shut down the transmission of sound to the world!.”

Congress leaders Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and several other Union Ministers were present in the House.

During his interactions in London, Rahul had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and there is a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions. The remarks triggered a political slugfest, with the BJP accusing Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking foreign interventions, and the Congress hitting back at the ruling party by citing previous instances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising internal politics abroad.

BJP president Nadda accused the former Congress chief of joining hands with foreign conspirators against India to encircle the country economically and strategically. Never before in independent India any leader has done what Rahul has done on foreign soil, he said. “This is a most serious matter,” Nadda said, adding that what the Congress leader has done has hurt every patriotic MP as well as the people of the country.

The BJP president said anti-India forces have always had problems with a strong India, its robust democracy and decisive government. By criticising the state of democracy in India and seeking the intervention of the United States and Europe on foreign soil, Rahul has attacked the country’s sovereignty, he added.

“Rejected repeatedly by people, Rahul Gandhi has become a permanent part of the anti-India toolkit,” Nadda said.

He accused the former Congress chief of insulting India, its Parliament, its democratically-elected Government and people in Britain, a country that ruled over India for long. What Rahul has done amounts to strengthening those working against India, the BJP president said.

The Congress has dismissed the BJP’s accusations and asserted that Rahul will not apologise. He has sought permission to speak in Parliament to respond to the criticism levelled against him by the ruling party members in both houses. Parliamentary proceedings during the second half of the Budget Session have so far been a washout over the row.

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