Smriti Irani Targets Rahul Gandhi, Says Democracy Not In Peril

Union Minister Smriti Irani said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's grudge with PM Narendra Modi has taken the shape of a grudge with India.

Union Minister Smriti Irani

India's democracy is not in peril but the Congress party has been brought to "political perish" by the people for the kind of behaviour its leader Rahul Gandhi exhibited overseas, Union minister Smriti Irani said on Wednesday as the BJP stepped up the ante against the opposition leader over  his recent remarks in the UK.

Gandhi's grudge with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the shape of a grudge with India, she charged, demanding that the Wayanad MP of the Congress apologise to Parliament for his remarks.

During his interactions in the UK recently, Gandhi alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and there is a "full-scale assault" on the country's institutions.

His remarks triggered a massive political row, with the BJP accusing him of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking foreign interventions and the Congress hitting back, citing instances of Prime Minister Modi raising internal politics abroad.

Addressing a press conference, Irani alleged that "at the feet of India's colonial past" Gandhi lamented the "lack of foreign intervention" in India's democracy. This is to bring to a halt India's resilient growth story under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, she said.

She said the "lies that became a foundation of the Congress leader's conversation in England" were many.

The minister said Gandhi claimed that he does not have access to conversations in Indian universities and that for him was an indication of the death of democracy.

She alleged that the opposition leader visited a University in the national capital in 2016 and supported the slogan of 'Bharat tere tukde honge'.

Gandhi also said that democracy is being "blown to smithereens" in India, Irani charged. "However, this very gentleman in Jammu and Kashmir, during the 'Bharat jodo yatra', said all is well in India," she said.

"Which was a lie, Mr Gandhi? Your statement in India or your statement in England?" she asked.

Irani alleged Rahul Gandhi during his interactions in the UK not only attacked the magnificence of the country's Parliament but also the supremacy of the institutions "such as the Supreme Court of India and the Election Commission of India."

"When the Gandhi family directs Congressmen and women to tear papers and throw them at the Speaker’s chair in Lok Sabha, is that democracy," she asked.

"When the Gandhi family directs Congress members in Rajya Sabha to tear books and jump on tables and humiliate the Chair of the Vice President of India in Parliament, is that democracy?" she added.

The Union minister said, every Indian citizen demands an apology from Gandhi as Parliament is not merely an amalgamation of the parliamentarians but the voice of the people of India and "the Constitutional reflection" of their will.

"It is shameful that Rahul Gandhi, instead of coming to Parliament and apologising for his undemocratic rant against India, today seeks to be absent from Parliament," she asserted.

"Democracy, Mr Gandhi, is not in peril. The Congress party has been brought to political perish by the people of India for this very behaviour that you exhibited against the nation-state overseas," she added.

His remarks were not just an insult to the parliamentary traditions but also an insult to patriots and those who made sacrifices for the freedom of the country, she charged.

The Congress leader's remarks were also an insult to the democratic systems and every citizen of the country who cast their votes, she added.

Victory and defeat are part of the political traditions in politics, the Union minister said.

"But, Rashtra Niti says that if you dare to trample the country's Parliament under your feet for political gains, the country will demand a reply. Parliament will demand a reply," she said.

Instead of running away from Parliament, Gandhi must apologise for insulting the "people of the country, the Constitution and the voters," she demanded.