BJP, Congress trade barbs over Rahul’s remarks during UK visit

The BJP blamed Rahul Gandhi for defaming India on foreign soil while the former Congress president hit back saying it was actually Prime Minister Narendra Modi who did that years ago by discrediting the country’s achievements since Independence, writes Amit Agnihotri

A war of words erupted between the BJP and the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s recent visit to London where he interacted with various academics and lawmakers.

The BJP blamed Rahul for defaming India on foreign soil while the former Congress chief hit back saying it was actually PM Modi who did that years ago when he said nothing had been done in India since Independence.

More trouble erupted when Rahul slammed the BJP and described its ideological mentor RSS as a fascist organization while alleging that they had captured most of India’s institutions and were choking the voice of the opposition.

“RSS is…you can call it a secret society. It is built along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood and the idea is to use the democratic contest to come to power and then subvert the democratic contest afterwards. And it shocked me at how successful they have been at capturing the different institutions of our country… the press, the judiciary, Parliament, Election Commission — all the institutions are under pressure, under threat and controlled in one way or the other,” he said during an interaction at Chatham House.

 The former Congress chief also questioned the government’s China policy and charged PM Modi of being in ‘denial mode’ over the Chinese incursion along the border in eastern Ladakh.

The BJP in turn used parts of Rahul’s interactions to allege that he had sought America and Europe to intervene in India saying that democracy was under threat back home.

The Congress countered this by saying that Rahul had actually spoken about the strength of the Indian democracy and how the world would be impacted if the Indian democracy crumbled.

“He never asked the western powers to intervene in domestic issues. He clearly said that solutions to India’s problems would emerge from within,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said.

The Congress spokesperson further said that while Rahul had been invited to deliver a talk by his alma mater, the Cambridge University, the honour had made the BJP leaders feel jealous.

Shrinate also targeted Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju who criticised Rahul’s utterances in London and described him as a “Pappu”. The Congress spokesperson countered the law minister for the kind of language a cabinet member was using against a political rival saying it was a new low in India.

The Congress spokesperson said, “I wonder while they keep saying that Rahul should not be taken seriously. Yet, whenever he speaks, the entire cabinet and BJP leaders come out to attack the former party chief and defend the Government.”

“If the government is confident why does not it debate the issues flagged by Rahul Gandhi in Parliament,” said Shrinate.

The Rahul vs BJP tussle did not end here and flared up again as Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, criticised the Lok Sabha MP for telling UK lawmakers that microphones of the opposition leaders were put off in Indian Parliament.

“The Chairman is an umpire, a referee, a friend, philosopher and guide to all. He cannot be a cheerleader for any ruling dispensation. History measures leaders not on the zealousness with which they defended their party, but the dignity with which they performed their roles in the service of the people,” Congress veteran Jairam Ramesh said as he slammed the Chair’s observations during a book launch event.

Ramesh alleged that “the Hon’ble Vice President’s statement on Rahul Gandhi, therefore, was surprising to say the least. He rushed to the defence of a government from which he is constitutionally required to be at arm’s-length and in a manner that was both confusing as well as disappointing. Rahul Gandhi has not said anything abroad that he has not said several times here. And unlike certain other individuals, his stand does not vary depending on where he sits.”