Rajya Sabha adjourned for day amid uproar over Rahul Gandhi's remarks in UK

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 13-03-2023 17:25 IST | Created: 13-03-2023 17:00 IST
Rajya Sabha adjourned for day amid uproar over Rahul Gandhi's remarks in UK
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The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Monday as ruling BJP and opposition MPs continued to trade charges over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's ''democracy under attack'' remarks in the UK.

As the Upper House resumed for the afternoon session, having been adjourned earlier in the pre-lunch session, Leader of the House and Union minister Piyush Goyal said he had raised a serious matter in the morning regarding a senior Congress leader going abroad and stating that ''democracy is in danger'' in India and even sought the US and Europe to interfere in the country's affairs.

This House must condemn remarks by such a person, Goyal said without taking Gandhi's name.

When India is leading G20 through its presidency and the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being admired across the globe, a member of Lok Sabha goes abroad and defames the country, he said.

Even the Italian Prime Minister has stated that PM Modi is today the most popular leader in the world which looks up to him to solve the global challenges, Goyal added. Till the time he (Gandhi) apologises for the allegations he made against the Indian press, Indian judiciary, Indian media, election commission and the Indian Army, the country will not forgive him, the Leader of the House asserted.

Goyal had earlier in the day demanded that the ''the leader should come to the House and apologise to the people of the country, to this House, to the chair. And he has to understand what democracy is.'' Leader of the Opposition and Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge objected to Goyal's demand citing two previous rulings, implying that no member of Rajya Sabha can raise an issue regarding a person who is not a member of the House and certainly one who is a member of the Lok Sabha.

He cited a ruling given by late V V Giri on June 19, 1967 that ''a member of one House should not use the freedom of speech on the floor of the House to make allegations or charge against the members of the other House'' and another one made on March 17, 1983 by the then Vice-Chairman in favour of L K Advani which stated ''before referring to a member of the other House, one has to exercise a lot of care and caution...'' ''Therefore, whatever he (Goyal) said it should be expunged. These are the rules and you have to follow,'' Kharge said.

To this, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said, ''...I would first get an input from this House if you wish to make and seriously take this call.'' Goyal said that he did not take anyone's name and the opposition members were associating it to an individual by themselves and asked to whom the rulings that were cited by Kharge would apply.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged that this was the first time in his 45 years of being a member that the ruling party was not allowing the House to run and asserted it was the responsibility of the ruling party to ensure that the House runs.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi member K Keshav said many members would have gone abroad and spoken in universities, and asked, ''Don't you speak the truth?'' When Dhankhar noted the points raised by the Opposition and stated that of Goyal, who ''has taken a stand that he has not named anyone'', treasury and opposition benches resumed trading charges against each other, forcing the Rajya Sabha chairman to adjourn the House for the day, saying he would give his ruling on the issue on Tuesday. Earlier in the pre-lunch session, while Goyal demanded that Gandhi come to the House and apologise for his ''shameful'' and ''rubbish'' statements made in London, Kharge countered by questioning how a leader who is not an MP of Rajya Sabha can be called to the House. Kharge also referred to statements that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made abroad.

''In a shameful manner, an opposition leader in a foreign country talks 'anap shanap' (rubbish) about Indian democracy,'' Goyal said. ''He makes allegations against the Indian press, Indian judiciary, Indian media, election commission and the Indian Army,'' he said.

Gandhi also talked rubbish about a social welfare organisation, Goyal said, referring to the Congress leader's statements against the RSS.

Goyal went on to state that democracy was in danger when fundamental rights were suspended and the press muzzled during the Emergency imposed by Congress in 1975.

''Democracy is in danger when the prime minister's stature is challenged by the same leader by tearing legislation in front of the press. Democracy is in danger when the prime minister is forced to say I cannot stop corruption because it is a coalition government,'' he said.

His statements were countered by Kharge, who said the demand to call a leader who is not a member of Rajya Sabha to the House is condemnable.

Gandhi is a Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad in Kerala.

Kharge then recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement abroad but was interrupted by slogan shouting by treasury benches. Their slogans seeking apology from Gandhi drowned his voice.

When Goyal, who was given the floor twice by the chair, spoke, the Congress and other opposition MPs vociferously protested and the treasury benches returned the favour when Kharge made his submission.

The ruckus forced Chairman Dhankhar to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm. Gandhi, during his recent visit to the UK, had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy were under ''brutal attack'' and there was a ''full-scale assault'' on the institutions of the country.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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