By: Saumesh Thimbath
The Indian Parliament witnessed uproarious scenes on Monday (20) as the members and allies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party demanded apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the remarks he made ‘against Indian democracy’ during his recent visit to the United Kingdom.
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said only an ‘unambiguous’ apology from Gandhi can end the logjam in Parliament. He Puri categorically rejected the Congress MP’s claims on the prevailing situation in India and urged him to clarify if he was “playing to an agenda”.
During his interactions in the United Kingdom recently, the former Congress chief alleged that the structures of Indian democracy were under attack and that there was a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions.
The remarks have triggered a massive political row, with the BJP accusing Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking external interventions and the Congress hitting back, citing instances of Prime Minister Modi raising internal politics abroad.
“If any individual goes outside the country, he has the freedom to speak. But along with that freedom comes a sense of responsibility,” Puri said.
The BJP leader also noted that freedom of speech, civil liberties, free press and an independent judiciary are part of the basic structure of democracy in India. “Which of these (four) components, which make up the Indian democracy, are saying they are under attack?” he asked.
The Housing and Urban Affairs minister demanded that the Gandhi scion unequivocally apologise for his remarks to bring the issue to a closure. “To begin with, I think, you need closure and the closure will only come if he apologises. And, he should apologise categorically, unequivocally,” he demanded.
Parliament’s Budget session has been a washout since the beginning of its second part on March 13, with the BJP demanding an apology from Gandhi.
The parliamentary proceeding were adjourned on Monday as the opposition shouted slogans demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into alleged stock manipulation by the Adani Group.