Rahul defends his ‘democracy under attack’ comments at Par panel meeting

Despite the BJP’s demand for an apology for his “democracy under attack” comment in the UK, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi defended it during a parliamentary panel meeting on Saturday, claiming he never wanted foreign intervention in the matter.

Gandhi went on to say that India’s democracy was “under threat” and that everyone was aware of it. During a hearing of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on External Affairs, he is said to have stated that he cannot be labelled “anti-national” for his remarks.

According to sources, Gandhi’s remarks were made during a meeting of the Ministry of External Affairs consultative committee, which saw acrimonious exchanges as BJP members questioned Gandhi’s UK remarks without naming him.

The exchanges marred the meeting, where the principal agenda was India’s G20 presidency, with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tweeting, “A good meeting of the Consultative Committee on External Affairs today on India’s foreign policy objectives in the G20 was somewhat marred by some members needlessly politicising the discussion. Rahul Gandhi responded forcefully, and the meeting concluded with an amiable group photograph.” Tharoor also shared a photo of the panel members with Foreign Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Twitter.

At the conference, BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao is claimed to have said that India is the “mother of democracy” but that “coordinated efforts” were being made to weaken the country.

Rao referenced the “Hindenburg report on businessman Gautam Adani; recent remarks by George Soros about a government change in India; and the BBC documentary” to support his thesis.

“Some individuals have said things…but the actual stain on Indian democracy was the Emergency,” Rao added. According to the sources, afterwards, one more BJP MP questioned Gandhi’s UK remarks without identifying him, while Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) said that Indian democracy, strong as it is, “should not get frightened by random words of people or some documentary”.

Following a presentation on the G20 by the foreign secretary (to which Gandhi did not answer), the former Congress chief intervened and claimed he wanted to respond since BJP members had complained against him.

Gandhi stated at this point that an “attack on India’s democracy was clear,” but he added that he never sought international interference in the problem.

The sources claimed Jaishankar, head of the meeting, requested Gandhi to keep his thoughts on the matter for the Parliament, but the latter persisted on his right to speak and is understood to have inquired whether or not the “ED was targeting opposition figures solely”.

Nominated BJP MP Mahesh Jethmalani interrupted, saying Gandhi should not bring his “personal angst” into a G20 meeting, according to sources.

On the other hand, Gandhi is alleged to have contended that the BJP MPs strayed from the main matter, which required him to respond.

Gandhi, sources claimed, also questioned the take that the Hindenburg report was an attack on Indian democracy and remarked, “The report is about financial activities of a crony capitalist. Adani does not represent India.” Without naming names, another BJP MP argued that the Emergency was a “blot on India’s democracy” and that some people were attempting to distract attention.

The BJP leaders have started a strong onslaught against Gandhi both inside and outside Parliament, demanding that he provide a public apology for allegedly insulting the country and its institutions on foreign soil.

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