Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is on a week-long United Kingdon tour, addressed British parliamentarians in London on Monday, criticising Modi government. The Congress MP claimed that functioning microphones in the Lok Sabha are often silenced against the Opposition.
During an event organised by veteran Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma in the Grand Committee Room within the House of Commons complex, Gandhi shared experiences from the Bharat Jodo Yatra which he described as a "deeply political exercise in mass mobilisation".
In a lighter vein, he used a faulty microphone in the room to make his point about what he described as a “stifling” Opposition debate in India.
“Our mikes are not out of order, they are functioning, but you still can’t switch them on. That’s happened to me a number of times while I am speaking,” the 52-year-old Wayanad MP told the gathering, in response to a question about sharing his experience of being a politician in India with his counterparts in Britain.
“Demonetisation, which was a disastrous financial decision, we were not allowed to discuss. GST we were not allowed to discuss. Chinese troops entering Indian territory we were not allowed to discuss. I remember a Parliament where there were vibrant discussions, heated debates, arguments, and disagreements but we had a conversation. And, that’s frankly what we miss in Parliament. We have to use debates to fit in other debates. There is a stifling that is going on,” he said.
Gandhi explains why UPA government failed
Addressing another event- an in-conversation session at the Chatham House think tank on Monday evening to round off his week-long UK tour, Gandhi also pinpointed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's lack of focus on a shifting nature of the political discourse in India as the key factor behind its failure.
BJP likes to believe it will be in power eternally: Gandhi
BJP likes to believe it will be in power in India eternally but that is not the case, and to say the Congress is "gone" is a ridiculous idea, Opposition MP Rahul Gandhi said in London on Monday.
"To put it in perspective, if you look at the time from independence to now, the Congress party has been in power for the majority of the time," he said.
"Before the BJP was in power for 10 years, we were in power for 10 years. The BJP likes to believe that they have come to power in India and they are going to be in power eternally, that is not the case," the Congress leader added.
Gandhi, the MP from Kerala's Wayanad, pointed to a set of changes taking place in India that had caught the Congress and the UPA government off guard, such as a shift from rural to urban.
"We were focusing a lot on the rural space and we missed the ball in the beginning on the urban space, that is a fact. Those things are there. But to say that the BJP is in power and the Congress gone, that is actually a ridiculous idea," he said.
BJP hits back at Gandhi
The BJP has accused Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil while praising China. Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday hit out at Gandhi for his remarks and asked the Congress leader not to betray the nation.
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"Don't betray India, Rahul Gandhi ji. The objections to India's foreign policy is an evidence of your scant understanding of the issue. No one will believe the lies you spread about India from foreign soil," Thakur told reporters in New Delhi.
Thakur said Gandhi has resorted to "maligning India" from foreign soil as part of a conspiracy to hide his failures. "Rahul Gandhi has become a storm of controversies. Be it foreign agencies, foreign channels or be it foreign soil. He does not lose a single opportunity to malign India," Thakur said.
During the meeting, Indian-origin peer Lord Navnit Dholakia asked Gandhi about the Congress Party’s delivery record, to which the former Congress president blamed a “propaganda machine” that does not reflect a “strong undercurrent” against the government.
He also pointed out that the Congress had successfully “ruled the country for many, many years” and dismissed what he dubbed as a flawed media narrative against the Opposition party’s electoral prospects in the future.
(With PTI input)