Demand Of JPC Probe In Adani Issue Non-Negotiable, No Question Of Apology: Jairam Ramesh Rejects 'Middle Path' Approach

Rejecting the idea of a 'middle path' to resolve the current impasse in the Parliament, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the question of Rahul Gandhi apologising over his remarks does not arise.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said he does not see a "middle path" to end the logjam in Parliament as the Opposition's demand for a JPC probe into the Adani issue was "non-negotiable" and the question of an apology over Rahul Gandhi's remarks in the UK does not arise.

In an interview with PTI, Ramesh said the government is rattled by 16 Opposition parties coming together to demand a joint parliamentary probe into the Adani issue and is resorting to a "3D orchestrated campaign -- distort, defame and divert".

The former Union minister also hit out at BJP MP Nishikant Dubey's efforts to seek termination of Rahul Gandhi's membership of Lok Sabha over his remarks in the UK, saying all this was "intimidation" and part of efforts to distract from the real issues.

The remarks by the Congress general secretary in-charge communications comes amid the logjam in Parliament over Gandhi's remarks during his recent trip to the UK, with both houses failing to transact any significant business on the first five days of the budget session's second half.

Also on Friday, Home Minister Amit Shah said the current logjam in Parliament can be resolved if the Opposition comes forward for talks and that the government will go "two steps ahead" if the Opposition takes "two steps forward". Asked if there is any chance of finding a middle path to break the current logjam in Parliament with the BJP sticking to its demand of Rahul Gandhi's apology and Congress seeking a JPC probe into the Adani issue, Ramesh said, "I don't see any middle path because our demand for a JPC is non-negotiable and the question of an apology does not arise."

"In order to divert attention from this legitimate and reasonable demand for a JPC, the BJP is insisting on an apology. An apology for what, the current prime minister (Narendra Modi) has repeatedly in China, Germany, South Korea and in various parts of the world used forums to raise domestic political issues and to criticise his political opponents. He should be making an apology why should Rahul Gandhi be making any apology for highlighting what the state of democracy is in our country today," he said.

There is an "undeclared emergency" prevailing in the country, Ramesh alleged. Asked about the BJP's charge that Gandhi sought intervention of foreign countries, the Congress leader dismissed the charge, calling it "absolute bunkum and nonsense". He argued that whatever Gandhi said in the UK is a matter of record with its videos and transcripts available.

"He (Gandhi) is very clear, he said 'India's problems have to be solved internally through the electoral process, these are internal issues'. But he also said democracy in India is a public good and if India is democratic, not only India benefits but the world also benefits," Ramesh said. "This is a canard, an absolute lie that is being propagated by the BJP," he said of the BJP's foreign intervention charge.

Whatever remarks are being attributed to the former Congress chief, he never said it, Ramesh said. "What the BJP has been doing in the past couple of days is that it is distorting Mr Rahul Gandhi's remarks in order to divert. This is the 3D orchestrated strategy of Mr Modi -- distort, defame and divert. Why divert, because there is growing evidence daily of the complicity of the establishment, the PM himself, in this massive scam of Adani in which crores and crores of rupees of public institutions LIC, SBI and other financial institutions are involved and crores of crores of Indians are suffering because of this cronyism," Ramesh alleged.

Asked about BJP MP Dubey's demanded that Gandhi be expelled from the House for his remarks in the UK, Ramesh said, "This is intimidation. If they want to give a motion to the Speaker, they are welcome to do so. Mr Gandhi will reply." According to rule 357, Gandhi is allowed a personal explanation in Parliament, Ramesh said, citing that in 2015, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad was allowed a personal explanation in response to some remarks made against him by Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was in the Congress back then.

"Yesterday, for almost 15 minutes the microphones went off, it was collective mute," he alleged. On disruption rather than debate becoming the norm, Ramesh said the Opposition does not have a say as it is also not allowed to discuss issues such as Adani, China as well as economic matters.

"One of the fundamental rules of a parliamentary democracy is that the Opposition must have its say and the government will have its way. We know we don't have the numbers in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha but we are not even allowed to have our say and now efforts are being made to tarnish the Opposition's (image), saying that Opposition is responsible (for the adjournments)," he said.

Ramesh said that it was the treasury benches that forced the adjournments, and not the Opposition. 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 the 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 interventions, and the Congress hitting back at the ruling party by citing instances of Modi raising internal politics abroad.