Rahul Gandhi in US: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that the 'Muslim League' in Kerala is a completely "secular party" and there is nothing non-secular about it. His statements came on being asked about Congress's alliance with Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in Kerala. "I think the person who sent this question has not studied much about the Muslim League," Gandhi said about the Kerla's political outfit which is a traditional ally of the Congrss-led UDF government in the state.
Gandhi was fielding questions from journalists during a free-wheeling conversation at the National Press Club in Washington amid his ongoing US trip. While Gandhi's remarks in the US had already sparked controversy, the Muslim League statement also garnered criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
BJP takes on Rahul Gandhi for his remarks
Amit Malviya, in-charge of BJP's National Information and Technology Department, hit out at former Congress president, saying Gandhi's statement shows his "compulsion to remain acceptable in Wayanad." "Jinnah’s Muslim League, the party responsible for India’s partition, on religious lines, according to Rahul Gandhi is a ‘secular’ party. Rahul Gandhi, though poorly read, is simply being disingenuous and sinister here…," Malviya wrote on Twitter.
Further, Gandhi also put forth his views on Opposition's unity in India and how the Congress would assess bilateral ties with Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. Speaking on the Opposition's unity, the former Wayanad MP said that quite a lot of good work is being done in this regard.
Rahul Gandhi on Opposition's unity
"The Opposition is pretty well united, and it's getting more and more united. We are having conversations with all the Opposition (parties). I think quite a lot of good work is happening there. It's a complicated discussion because there are spaces where we are competing with the Opposition. So a bit of give and take is required. But I am confident that it (a grand Opposition alliance against the BJP at the Centre) will happen," he added.
Responding to a question, the Congress leader stressed the significance of India's bilateral ties with Russia, which goes back decades. "I would respond to Russia similarly to what the BJP did. We (Congress) would be responding in a similar way (to the Russia-Ukraine conflict). Because India has that sort of relationship with Russia and that can't be denied. Our policy would be similar," Gandhi added.
Rahul Gandhi on his disqualification as an MP
Opening up on his disqualification as a member of the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Gandhi said he was "the first to be given the highest punishment for a defamation case". He also invoked the timing of his disqualification from Parliament, claiming that it came after his speech on the Adani-Hindenburg row in the Lok Sabha.
"I asked a rhetorical question... I am the first person in India to be given the highest punishment for a defamation case, in history, since 1947. Nobody has been given a maximum sentence that too on the first offence. That should explain what's going on to you and my disqualification happens quite interestingly after my speech about Adani in Parliament, so you can do the math," Gandhi added.
It should be mentioned here that the 52-year-old Congress leader is slated to conclude his week-long US trip with a public gathering in New York on June 4. The interaction would take place at the Javits Center in New York.
(With ANI inputs)