Congress leader Rahul Gandhi told British parliamentarians in the Houses of Parliament complex in London on Monday that functioning microphones in the Lok Sabha are often silenced against the Opposition.
During an event organised by veteran Indian-origin Opposition Labour Party MP Virendra Sharma in the Grand Committee Room within the House of Commons, Gandhi also shared experiences from the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which he described as a “deeply political exercise in mass mobilisation”.
In a lighter vein, he used a faulty microphone in the room to make his point about what he described as a “stifling” of Opposition in India.
“Our mikes are not out of order, they are functioning, but you still can’t switch them on. That’s happened to me a number of times while I am speaking,” the 52-year-old Wayanad MP told the gathering, in response to a question about sharing his experience of being a politician in India with his counterparts in Britain.
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“Demonetisation, which was a disastrous financial decision, we were not allowed to discuss. The GST we were not allowed to discuss. Chinese troops entering Indian territory we were not allowed to discuss. I remember a Parliament where there were vibrant discussions, heated debates, arguments, disagreements but we had a conversation. And, that’s frankly what we miss in Parliament. We have to use debates to fit in other debates. There is a stifling that is going on,” he said.
The BJP has accused Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil while praising China.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur on Monday hit out at Gandhi for his remarks and asked the Congress leader not to betray the nation.
“Don’t betray India, Rahul Gandhi ji. The objections to India’s foreign policy is an evidence of your scant understanding of the issue. No one will believe the lies you spread about India from foreign soil,” Thakur told reporters in New Delhi.
Thakur said Gandhi has resorted to “maligning India” from foreign soil as part of a conspiracy to hide his failures.
“Rahul Gandhi has become a storm of controversies. Be it foreign agencies, foreign channels or be it foreign soil. He does not lose a single opportunity to malign India,” Thakur said.
Gandhi took questions from the group of MPs and peers from the House of Lords to also highlight the importance of India-UK relations to create greater employment opportunities and also to protect Indian democracy.
“Democracy in India is a global public good. India is big enough, where if democracy is weakened in India, it is weakened on the planet. India’s democracy is three times the size of the US and Europe and if this democracy crumbles, it will be a huge setback for democracy on the planet,” he said.