Slugfest between Cong and BJP intensifies

No business in Parliament for third straight day

Slugfest between Cong and BJP intensifies

The proceedings in Parliament were disrupted for the third straight day on Wednesday as the political slugfest between the BJP and the Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s democracy remarks and the Adani issue intensified and the opposition parties took to the streets.

The BJP stepped up the ante against Gandhi, saying India’s democracy is not in peril but the Congress party has been brought to “political perish” by the people while the opposition party escalated its offensive, accusing the government of “undermining and weakening” democracy in the country by stalling Parliament to save a businessman.

The logjam continued in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

In Lok Sabha, opposition members stormed into the Well of the House, raising placards and slogans, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani matter while the BJP slammed Rahul, accusing him of insulting India and cast aspersion against the Speaker of the House.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla repeatedly urged the members to return to their seats and allow the house to run.

Rajya Sabha proceedings were also disrupted amid uproar over the BJP’s demand for Gandhi’s apology for his “democracy under attack” remark made in London.

Outside the Parliament, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said that there is no question of an apology over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in the UK and that those demanding so must answer on Prime Minister Narendra Modi “humiliating” the people of the country with his comments abroad.

The BJP and several senior ministers have been demanding an apology from Gandhi over his “democracy under attack” remarks in the UK.

“I would like to ask a question to the people demanding an apology (from Rahul Gandhi) that (what about) when Modi ji went to five-six countries and humiliated the people of our country and we were told by him that being born in India is a sin,” Kharge said.

“Democracy is diminishing here, freedom of expression and speech are being weakened, TV channels are being pressured and people speaking the truth are being jailed, so if this is not the process of ending democracy then what is?” the Congress president told reporters here.

So, there is no question of an apology, he added.

Both houses have failed to transact business so far in the second leg of the Budget session of Parliament that began on Monday.

Gandhi, during his recent UK visit, had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy were under “brutal attack” and there was 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 Narendra Modi raising internal politics abroad.

Outside the Parliament also, the BJP kept the heat on Rahul Gandhi with Union minister Smriti Irani saying 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,

Gandhi’s grudge with Prime Minister 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.

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.

Meanwhile, Congress MPs on Wednesday sought examining of SEBI and RBI chiefs, officials of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and other regulatory bodies by a parliamentary panel on finance to ascertain whether there were any failures on their part on the Adani issue.

Manish Tewari of the Congress raised the demand during a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance but BJP members opposed it saying the issue was sub-judice.

Tewari was supported by party colleagues Gaurav Gogoi and Pramod Tiwari, TMC MP Saugata Roy and BJD’s Pinaki Misra and Amar Patnaik during the meeting, sources said.

They added that BJP MPs Ravi Shankar Prasad, SS Ahluwalia and Sushil Kumar Modi strongly opposed the demand saying the issue is sub-judice as the Supreme Court is looking into the issue and has set up a committee in this regard.

The sources said Tewari stated that the chiefs of SEBI, RBI and other regulatory agencies were required to be examined to ascertain whether there was any regulatory failure on the Adani group share meltdown on Indian stock markets after the Hindenburg report came out.

Committee chairman Jayant Sinha asked the Congress members to give in writing their demand, the sources said, adding that the opposition members said this was part of the panel’s work to oversee the regulatory framework.

When contacted, Sinha said, “Some honourable members brought up a specific matter that is currently being evaluated through the SC expert committee it was agreed let the SC process be concluded.”

The issue was discussed for over an hour but remained inconclusive.

The Finance Committee met in Parliament complex to get a briefing by the representatives of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on the subject ‘Issues related to MPLAD Scheme’ and for consideration and adoption of draft reports on Demands for Grants (2023-24).

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