New Delhi: The proceedings in both Houses of Parliament got off to a stormy start on the first day of resumption of the Budget session. The opposition parties protested the Centre’s decision to raise the issue of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent statement in the United Kingdom in which he talked about the state of Indian democracy.
During his recent UK tour, Gandhi had repeatedly said that Indian democracy was under threat and criticised the BJP-led government for “controlling all the institutions”.
Gandhi had also alleged that debates on important issues were no longer allowed in India. “Some of the biggest decisions like demonetisation, the farmers’ Bills, where large numbers of farmers were out in the street, we were not allowed a conversation in Parliament. The GST we were not allowed. When Chinese troops entered our territory, we were not allowed. So, that stifling made us ask ourselves a fundamental question … How do we communicate with the people of India when the media is biased and when the institutions are captured?” he had asked.
Ministers seek apology from Gandhi in Lok Sabha
In the Lok Sabha, it was defence minister Rajnath Singh who spoke about how a leader of the opposition had spoken against the democratic institutions of the country in a foreign land and demanded that he furnish an apology for doing so. Singh also insisted that Gandhi’s statement was directed at the Indian legislature, judiciary, election commission and was also an affront to the Indian armed forces.
“Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of this House, insulted India in London. I demand that his statements should be condemned by all members of this House and he should be asked to apologise before the House,” Singh said.
As Singh spoke, the opposition members stood up to protest his remarks. Thereafter as Union minister Pralhad Joshi also stood up to speak on the issue of Gandhi’s speech, the opposition members trooped into the Well. The commotion led Speaker Om Birla to adjourn the House till 2 pm. Meanwhile, speaking outside the House, Union minister Giriraj Singh later demanded a sedition case against Gandhi for insulting the Lok Sabha.
Kharge says remarks on Gandhi ‘condemnable’
In the Rajya Sabha, the proceedings lasted slightly longer. Here the issue was raised by leader of the House Piyush Goyal, who said Gandhi should apologise to all the institutions as also to the chair of the Rajya Sabha for making them.
Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar then allowed leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge to say his part and urged the House to hear him in rapt silence. Kharge at the very outset said it was absolutely condemnable that the minister had chosen to issue a statement on a remark made by a Congress leader who was a member of another House. He also recalled how Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a similar statement in China.
Opposition resumes protests over Adani issue
Following the adjournment of the House proceedings, the opposition parties resumed their protests in the Parliament premises on the Adani issue which had dominated the proceedings in the first half of the Budget Session as a report by Hindenburg Research had accused the group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud”.
Among the opposition members who were seen raising the issue were Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party and Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena UBT.
‘Central agencies acting with vengeance against opposition leaders’
Earlier in the day, Kharge also convened a meeting of opposition parties where it was decided that the opposition would raise the issue raids by the central agencies against opposition leaders among other issues during the second half of the Budget session. He had claimed that the agencies were acting with “vengeance” and were being “politically influenced”.
Following the meeting, which was attended by leaders of 16 parties, Kharge told news agency ANI, “Opposition leaders will bring up every issue including unemployment, inflation and raids by ED-CBI. We will take the opinions of all opposition leaders to form a strategy.”
He had also spoken about how the “government agencies are troubling the opposition leaders” and had noted that they had not shown any empathy towards Lalu Prasad Yadav, a senior citizen, and his daughter-in-law who is pregnant.
The Congress leader had also accused the BJP of lying to the people of poll-bound Karnataka on several issues. “PM Modi is just busy in gaining sympathy from the people of Karnataka. We are just asking about their work, about what they have given to the people of Karnataka. They expect to take up the entire credit just by connecting two ends of a road. We constructed the road to connect Mysuru for the tourists. If one likes to talk, he must not lie at least,” he had claimed.