Parliament Remains Paralysed for Second Consecutive Day; BJP-Cong Feud Over Rahul’s Remarks Intensifies

The proceedings in Parliament were paralysed for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as the BJP stepped up its offensive against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his remarks in the UK, accusing him of insulting the country’s constitutional institutions and reiterating its demand for an apology. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned for the day amid a ruckus with BJP members raising slogans and seeking an apology from Gandhi, while the Congress-led opposition waved placards with quotes from speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visits abroad.

“Rahul Gandhi maafi mango (Rahul Gandhi apologise),” BJP members shouted repeatedly from their seats while opposition members raised slogans from the aisles and avoided trooping into the well of the house.

“BRICS ka ‘I’ ludak raha hai (The ‘I’ in BRICS is tottering),” read one placard referring to the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“Pata nahi pehle janam main kya paap kiya tha, Hindustan main paida hua (Don’t know what sin I had committed that I was born in India),” read another placard waved by a Congress member quoting the prime minister’s speech in Seoul in May 2015.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla tried to take up the Question Hour and appealed to the members to uphold the dignity of the house.

He asked the Congress members to maintain the decorum of the House and not show placards. However, Congress members continued their protest, resulting in the adjournment for the day.

Rajya Sabha too witnessed noisy scenes when Leader of the House and Union Minister Piyush Goyal, without naming Gandhi, alleged that he had insulted the Parliament and constitutional institutions and said he should tender an apology. Gandhi, during a recent UK visit, had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy were under “brutal attack” and there was a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions.

“I believe this is a very serious issue over which the entire country and members are angry. The defamation of Parliament, the way in which the country’s pride has been hurt…The leader who attempted to ruin the country’s image, those who attacked the country abroad and spread misconceptions about the country’s Parliament…He must apologise over this in the Parliament,” Goyal said.

Before Goyal was given the floor, RS Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected notices under Rule 267 by Congress members, including Pramod Tiwari, KC Venugopal, Kumar Ketkar and Amee Yajnik to discuss the government’s failure to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the charges of fraud, corruption and financial mismanagement by Adani Group of companies.

Dhankhar also rejected notices by the BRS’ K Kesava Rao and the AAP’s Sanjay Singh to discuss the Hindenburg report on Adani Enterprises and other group companies, along with demands for discussions on the post-poll violence in Tripura and prohibition of online gambling and regulation of online games in Tamil Nadu by other members.

“To err is human… and sometimes, it takes place. We had such a seamless session because there was recognition…through great feats at (the) Oscars. I thought this will be a day where notices may not be taken up,” the chairman said. Earlier, Rajya Sabha members, cutting across party lines, congratulated the Indian Oscar winners, calling it a “moment of glory” for the country.

Dhankhar rejected the notices saying the issues “are the ones that can be agitated (for) by other means”.

Rule 267 calls for suspension of the day’s business to take up an issue being mentioned in the notice.

Congress member Shaktisinh Gohil and his party colleagues also demonstrated in the Well, demanding a discussion on the Adani issue even as other members stood along the aisle and shouted slogans.

Dhankhar tried to pacify them, asking them to go back to their seats while giving the floor to Goyal.

“Yesterday (Monday), we had raised a very important issue and the manner in which India was insulted and its institutions, including Parliament, were insulted,” the minister said.

“Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are part of Parliament, which have been insulted. I feel this is the first time that the entire Parliament was insulted,” Goyal said.

He said “unnecessary and uncalled for” remarks were made by an MP on foreign soil against the Parliament, which includes the President of India. “Constitutional provisions say that we all should condemn such a behaviour and the person concerned should apologise,” Goyal said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with senior ministers including Pralhad Joshi, Goyal, Kiren Rijiju, Anurag Thakur and Nitin Gadkari.

The BJP-Congress feud around Rahul Gandhi’s comments also spilled over outside Parliament with Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur telling the opposition leader to stop his “Cambridge cries and London lies” of democracy on the decline and face the electorate in India.

Participating in the Lokmat National Conclave here, Thakur said that Gandhi has been critical of India on foreign soil after losing a series of elections where the BJP and its allies emerged victorious, trouncing the Congress.

“No matter how much help he (Gandhi) seeks from foreign friends, foreign newspapers and channels, foreign soil, foreigners can never dominate India. You have to vote here, not in England or America,” the senior BJP leader said. Defending Rahul, Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda said the former party president never asked any foreign country for help and was being subjected to a “well-orchestrated” personal attack based on “lies and misinformation”. Pitroda, who was present during Gandhi’s interactions in the UK, mounted a strong defence of the comments made by the former Congress chief in a series of tweets.

“Please stop promoting and propagating lies about what Rahul Gandhi said in London. Were you there? Did you see the video? Do you really know what he said? In what context? What was the main message? “For clarification, please note that Rahul Gandhi basically said the following: 1. Indian Democracy is Global Public Good. 2. The state of democracy in India is of concern. 3. It is an Indian problem, and we will deal with it,” Pitroda said.

Gandhi never asked any foreign country for help, he asserted.

Hitting out at Pitroda, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla wrote on Twitter: “Dear Uncle Sam, the entire media and nation have seen Rahul Gandhi’s video and how he was asking for action from US, Europe into Indian affairs.” “Since you seem disconnected with realities and perhaps living in a ‘hua to hua’ world, here is also what Rahul Gandhi and his ilk have done in the past — Rahul sought Nicholas Burn’s intervention too, Mani Aiyar sought Pakistani intervention. When it comes to undermining national sovereignty, Rahul is a serial offender,” he alleged.

The proceedings in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were stalled on Monday too.

Ahead of the session, leaders of 16 parties, including the Congress, DMK, CPI-M, JDU, RJD, NCP, SP, SS (Uddhav), AAP, CPI, JMM, MDMK, NC, and Kerala Congress, held a meeting and decided to raise the Adani matter in the House.

The TMC did not attend the meeting but its MPs staged a protest in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament complex, asking the government to stop “protecting” the Adani Group.

TMC members held banners and placards saying “Stop protecting Adani” and raised slogans against the government.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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