Rahul Gandhi Demands Time To Respond In Lok Sabha Amid Row Over U.K. Speech
During an interaction in the U.K., Gandhi said that democracy in India was under attack and opposition leaders were being silenced
The Bharatiya Janata Party continued its attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday for his recent remarks in the U.K. where he alleged that democracy in India was in danger.
Gandhi has sought time from Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to speak in Parliament to respond to the allegations that he insulted the country.
During an interaction in the U.K., Gandhi had said that democracy in India was under attack and opposition leaders were being silenced. His remarks triggered a massive outcry in India and the logjam in Parliament continued unabated for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday amid protests by the ruling party.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju sought Gandhi's apology to the people of the country, accusing the Congress leader of insulting the Parliament, judiciary and democracy.
Rebuffing Gandhi's allegations that he isn't allowed to speak, Rijiju said that during the first half of the budget session, the Wayanad MP spoke for more than the time that was allotted to him.
"People here know him and don't take him seriously, but what about others?" the minister asked.
"I actually got texts from a few MPs abroad, saying Gandhi should be given time to speak," Rijiju said. "There is no truth at all to whatever he said."
Rijiju said he belonged to a minority community and was still the Law Minister of the country. "And Rahul Gandhi is going around telling the world that minorities are treated like second-class citizens here," the minister said. "He led a yatra as per his wishes and spoke all day every day, but now he is saying people can't speak in this country."
The Law Minister said Gandhi could oppose the BJP ideologically, but people would not accept it if he "insults" the country.
"All anti-India forces have the same language. We don't have any objection when Rahul says something and it affects the Congress party," Rijiju said. "Even if he sinks the party, it is not of much interest to us, but if he does the same for the country, then we won't stay quiet."
Rijiju asserted that Congress and Gandhi had been rejected by the people and both should stop thinking of the country as their fiefdom, and instead, be grateful to the people of the country for trusting the family for many years.
Gandhi, who came to Parliament, claimed he didn't say anything that was insulting of India. Later, addressing a press conference, he said he had sought time to speak in Parliament.
"Four ministers have raised allegations against me. It is my right as a member of the house to speak here," he said.
Gandhi said though he had sought time from Birla to speak, but the Lok Sabha Speaker had been non-committal. "I am hoping I will get a chance to speak tomorrow," he said. "The question is when four ministers are attacking a member, will the member be given a chance to respond or asked to shut up?"
Earlier, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur had asked Gandhi to lead a "forgiveness yatra" to apologise for his comments and come to Parliament more regularly instead of complaining about democracy.
At a rally in Karnataka recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said it was unfortunate that from the soil of London, questions were being raised on Indian democracy. "There is no force that can weaken Indian democracy."
Despite the pressure mounted by the BJP through ministers, the Congress has made it clear that Gandhi would not apologise. "Earlier on numerous occasions, Modiji spoke against India abroad," Party President Mallikarjun Kharge had said. "There is no question of apologising."