Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday attacked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his comments regarding microphones being turned off in Parliament, and said he would be on the "wrong side" of the Constitution if he stayed silent on the issue.
Speaking at an event to launch veteran Congress leader and former parliamentarian Karan Singh's book on the Mundaka Upanishad, Dhankhar spoke extensively on the former Congress president's remarks made in London.
"The world is applauding our historic accomplishments and functional, vibrant democracy. Some amongst us, including parliamentarians, in overdrive are engaged in thoughtless, unfair denigration of our well nurtured democratic values," he said.
Rahul Gandhi told British parliamentarians in London on Monday that functioning microphones in the Lok Sabha are often silenced against the Opposition. He made the comment 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.
In his address, the vice president said, "How do we justify such wanton orchestration of factually untenable narrative and mark the timing... India is having a moment of glory being president of G20. And there are people from the country working in overdrive to denigrate us. Such misplaced campaign mode to taint and tarnish our Parliament and Constitution is too serious and exceptional to be ignored."
"No political strategy or partisan stance can justify compromising our nationalism and democratic values. I am before a noble soul, my silence on this misadventure...if I observe silence on this orchestration by a Member of Parliament outside the country which is ill-premised and motivated, I would be on the wrong side of the Constitution. It would be constitutional culpability and outrage of my oath," he said.
Dhankhar said the Emergency was a dark chapter of Indian democracy, but democracy has now matured and it cannot be repeated.
"How can I sanctify the statement that mics in Indian Parliament are put off? How dare he have courage to say so? We did have a dark chapter of our history, proclamation of Emergency. The darkest period any democracy can suffer. But the Indian democratic polity has now matured. There can be no repeat of that," he said.
Asserting that anyone who says so, inside the country or outside, is an affront to the nation, he said, "Imagine this being done after having held the floor for nearly 50 minutes. Some kind of wanton misadventure to run down our democratic fabrics and values cannot be countenanced."
"I am not a stakeholder in politics. I don't engage in partisan stances. But I do believe in constitutional duty... If I observe silence, the vast majority of people who believe in this nation will be silenced forever. We cannot allow such kind of narrative to gain currency and momentum," the vice president said.
Dhankhar also reacted to reports alleging that his "personal staff" have been “attached” to standing committees and department-related standing committees of Parliament.
"You know the importance of committees. I got inputs from a number of members and chairmen of committees to do something affirmative to improve productivity. So, I sharpened the human resource attached to committees. I put research-oriented, knowledgeable people so that they can help the committee members to optimize output and performance," he said.
"But a narrative has been set afloat by sections of the media that the chairman has appointed his own members to the committees. Has anyone even checked facts? Committees comprise Members of Parliament. It is their exclusive domain," he added.
-With PTI Input