Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday alleged the whole “tamasha” around his remarks in the UK has been created by the government to divert attention from the Adani issue and asserted it is a “test of Indian democracy” as to whether he would be allowed to respond to the allegations by the BJP in Parliament.
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Gandhi said the question before the country is whether, after four BJP leaders have made allegations about a member of Parliament, that person would be given the same space as them or he would be told to “shut up.”
In an apparent reference to the controversy over his remarks in the UK, Gandhi said this whole thing is about distraction and claimed that the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are ”scared” over the Adani issue, which is why they have ”prepared this whole tamasha”.
Gandhi on Thursday arrived in Parliament House after his return from abroad and met Speaker Om Birla, who urged him to allow him to speak in Lok Sabha.
”I went to Parliament this morning with the idea of putting forward what I have said or what I feel on the floor of the House. Four ministers have raised allegations against me in Parliament House; it is my right to be allowed to speak on the floor of the House,” the former Congress chief said.
”I told him (the Speaker) that people from the BJP have made allegations against me, and as a member of Parliament, it is my right to speak,” he said.
Gandhi said Birla was “non-committal” and just smiled.
The Congress leader said he is hopeful, though not very sure, that he will be allowed to speak in Parliament on Friday.
Gandhi said he had asked some fundamental questions about the relationship between Modi and Adani Group chairperson Gautam Adani.
The whole idea is that all those questions must not be on the table, and that is why this whole exercise of four to five ministers and the prime minister speaking is necessary, he claimed.
“More importantly, whose money is in these shell companies?” “Who is this unknown person whose money is in these shell companies?” Gandhi asked.
“As an MP, I would like to first place my statement on the floor of the House, and then after that, I would be happy to have a discussion with you all,” he told reporters.
Gandhi reiterated that the allegations had been made in Parliament by four ministers and that it was “my democratic right” to have the opportunity to respond to them in Parliament.
“So if Indian democracy was functioning, I would be able to say my piece in Parliament,” he said.
“So, actually, what you are saying is a test of Indian democracy: after four BJP leaders have made allegations about a member of Parliament, is that member of Parliament going to be given the same space that those four members were given or is he going to be told to shut up?” he said. That is what the question is before this country right now, he added.
Gandhi’s remarks during his recent trip to the UK have rocked Parliament, with both houses failing to transact any significant business on the first four days of the budget session’s second half.
Several BJP leaders, including Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal, and Pralhad Joshi, have demanded an apology from Gandhi over his remarks.
During his interactions in the UK, Gandhi alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and there is a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions.
He also told British parliamentarians in London that microphones are often “turned off” in Lok Sabha when an opposition member raises important issues.
Gandhi’s remarks triggered a political slugfest, with the BJP accusing him of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking foreign intervention and the Congress hitting back at the ruling party by citing instances of Modi raising internal politics abroad.