BJP versus Rahul Gandhi: No debates, only Noise Hours in Indian Parliament


Opposition MPs create a ruckus in the Well of Lok Sabha during the second phase of the Budget Session of the Parliament, in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI Photo/ SansadTV)

As BJP leaders continue to mount attack on the Congress leader over his remarks about Indian democracy during his recent visit to the UK, the parliament session is disrupted and debate turned into a shouting match  

Our Bureau
New Delhi

The proceedings in the two Houses of Parliament were disrupted for the fifth day on Friday as the ruling BJP and opposition parties sought to vociferously raise their issues.

The acrimony continued to play out outside the Parliament with leaders from BJP and Congress targeting each other over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks and the Adani issue. After the Lok Sabha met for the day, opposition members came near the Speaker’s podium over their demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Hindenburg-Adani row. The BJP members raised demand for apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his remarks in United Kingdom, alleging that they had maligned institutions in the country.

Congress alleged that the audio was muted after they raised slogans that Rahul Gandhi should be allowed to respond to allegations of BJP leaders against him. Congress members alleged that there was no audio for about 20 minutes of the House proceedings.

Government sources said the audio was muted due to a “technical fault”.

The Rajya Sabha also witnessed disruptions and was adjourned for the day. The House earlier took up some of the listed business. The second part of the Budget session began on March 13. BJP leaders continued to mount attack on Rahul Gandhi outside the Parliament over his remarks during visit to United Kingdom.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda said Rahul Gandhi has become a permanent part of the “anti-nationalist toolkit”.

“It’s unfortunate that the Congress party is indulging in anti-national activities. After being repeatedly rejected by the nation, Rahul Gandhi has now become a permanent part of this anti-nationalist toolkit,” Nadda told ANI.

He accused Rahul Gandhi of seeking “intervention of another country in the internal matters of India”.

“Rahul Gandhi, what is your intention when you demand the intervention of another country in the internal matters of India? At a time when India is becoming the 5th largest economy in the world and G20 meetings are being held here, Rahul Gandhi on foreign soil is insulting the nation and the Parliament,” Nadda said.

Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Rahul Gandhi arrive to join the Opposition MPs in their protest at the parliament on Friday (ANI)

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge hit back at Nadda over his remarks against Rahul Gandhi.

“They (BJP) themselves are anti-national. They never took part in India’s freedom movement, worked for the Britishers and they are calling others anti-national? They are doing this to deviate from issues of unemployment and inflation,” Kharge alleged.

“Can Rahul Gandhi ever be anti-national? Are people who debate about democracy anti-national? I condemn JP Nadda’s remarks. There is no point of apologizing. We will give a strong reply to this in the Parliament. Rahul Gandhi will himself reply on this, that’s why they (BJP) are scared,” he asked.

Kharge alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “insulted” the country on multiple occasions. “PM Modi said people and businessman say that what sin I committed to have born in India’. Those who insulted the people of the country is calling us anti-national? First, he should apologize,” Kharge said.

Rahul Gandhi refused to respond to Nadda’s jibe against him.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur hit out at Rahul Gandhi over his “unfortunately I am MP” remark at a press conference which he subsequently corrected after being checked by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The clip of the press conference where Rahul Gandhi is being corrected by Jairam Ramesh went viral. “Sometimes, the truth comes out naturally, and as Rahul rightly said, unfortunately, he is a member of the Parliament, because of the way he uses foreign soil to defame and spread lies about the same prestigious institution, the Parliament of India, of which unfortunately he is a member,” said Thakur.

“”Today ‘RAHUL’ stands for ‘Regretful Awful Hateful Ungrateful Liar,'” he added.

The Union Minister said that Rahul should come and issue an unconditional apology.

“But he is still putting conditions to that. Is he above the rule of the land? Is he above the rules and procedures of the House? Does the Gandhi family still feel that they are above the country and the Parliament?” Thakur asked.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) has to understand that the Parliament is run as per the rules and procedure of the House and as per the direction given by the honorable Speaker. But that can only happen if he comes to the House and reads the rules and procedures. I believe he will understand that and come and apologize to the House and the Parliament,” Thakur added.

Rahul said on Thursday hoped to speak in Parliament in detail after four ministers made allegations against him over his remarks in the United Kingdom.

“So, if Indian democracy was functioning, I would be able to say my piece in Parliament. So, actually what you are seeing, is a test of Indian democracy. After four leaders of the BJP have made an allegation about a Member of Parliament, is that Member of Parliament going to be given the same space that those four Ministers have been given or is he going to be told to shut up? That’s what the real question in front of this country is right now,” Rahul Gandhi said.

BJP National President JP Nadda speaks on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on democracy in India (ANI)

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor defended Rahul Gandhi and there is nothing he should apologize for. “Rahul Gandhi never demanded foreign forces come to our country to save our democracy. He hasn’t said anything he should apologize for. It’s nonsense,” Tharoor said. “Democracy, in our country, is in danger and everyone should know about it. I didn’t hear anything wrong in it”, added Congress MP Tharoor.

In his lecture at Cambridge University Rahul Gandhi had said that everybody knows and it’s been in the news a lot “that Indian democracy is under pressure and under attack”.

The first week of the second part of budget session of Parliament has been marred by disruptions with the two Houses not able to conduct any major business. The budget session of parliament will conclude on April 6.

Further talking about the Parliamentary Budget session, Tharoor said, “It is the Government’s responsibility to run the Parliament. The budget session is ongoing, there’s a need to pass Finance Bill.”

“When there are such important matters, you are not allowing Parliament to function over a non-issue,” added Tharoor.

Earlier, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who appeared in Parliament for the first time on Thursday amid the ongoing row over his remarks on Indian democracy in the UK, alleged that the Centre is “scared” of the Adani issue which is why it has “prepared the entire ‘tamasha’ (drama)”.

The Congress leader said that he conveyed his message to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla about speaking in the House, and added that he felt that he would not be allowed to speak in the Parliament. Gandhi turned up in the Parliament on Thursday for the first time after returning to India from his UK visit. The Ministers in the government have been demanding an apology from the Congress leader for his alleged “anti-India” remarks.

Addressing the media after Parliament adjournment here, Gandhi said that it is his right to speak in the Parliament where allegations have been levelled against him.

“I told Speaker today that I want to speak in the Parliament. Four Ministers of the government have leveled allegations against me in the House. It is my right to speak. There is no clarity, but I don’t think that he will let me speak. I am hopeful that he will let me speak tomorrow. He adjourned the House within one minute of my arrival. I want to put forth my stand,” he said.

Referring to the expunged speech in Lok Sabha in the first half of the ongoing Budget Session, the Wayanad MP claimed that he had stated everything in his speech which was already in the public domain.

“The idea is that in the speech that I delivered in the Parliament House a few days ago on Adani and his relationship with PM Modi, I asked questions. The entire speech was expunged. There was nothing in that speech that I had not carved from the public record, from the newspapers, statements of various people. But it was expunged,” he said further suggesting that the entire issue of demanding an apology from him was a “distraction”.

Distraction or not, the current session of the parliament is full of shouting, noisy allegations and disruptions. Both the government and opposition seem to be little interested in debates and discussion.

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