Sunday, April 2, 2023

Face-off persists as govt demands apology, Rahul Gandhi insists he be heard


New Delhi, March 16

Political slugfest between the Congress and the BJP intensified on Thursday with Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi asserting his right to respond to ministerial accusations in Parliament and the ruling dispensation insisting on his public apology for “defaming India and the Indian democracy in the UK”.

Back from the UK, Rahul Gandhi, attending the second leg of the Budget session for the first time today, said he was not allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha today. As the Parliament paralysis entered the fourth day, the House was adjourned for the day within minutes of reconvening at 2 pm after the first adjournment at 11 am. Rahul said the test of democracy lay in whether he, like the ministers who accused him, would get a chance to speak.

“Four ministers levelled accusations against me. I went up to the Lok Sabha Speaker today and told him that I have the right to reply in the House. He just smiled. I am hopeful but not sure if I will be allowed to speak tomorrow…What’s happening is a test of Indian democracy. Will I, as an MP, get the same space as those four ministers or will I be asked to shut up? If Indian democracy is functioning, I will be able to say my piece in the Lok Sabha….

“This whole thing is an attempt to distract from the questions I asked recently about the ‘links’ between PM Narendra Modi and industrialist Gautam Adani and the ‘bending of rules’ to favour him,” said Rahul at a press briefing at the AICC headquarters here. The BJP hit back with veteran leader Ravi Shankar Prasad demanding Rahul’s apology and accusing him of “habitually defaming India and Indians on foreign soil.”

“How long will Rahul Gandhi mislead the nation? He said abroad that the US and the UK should take note of India’s alleged democratic decline. We are not demanding his apology for remarks made in the Indian Parliament. We are demanding his apology for remarks made in England. He did not deny his remarks today nor did he express regret. His words rang hollow,” Prasad said, adding that the BJP would campaign against the Congress leader nationally.

Opposition sources, meanwhile, did not rule out the possibility of a truncated Parliament session, which is otherwise scheduled to end on April 6.



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