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"The Judiciary, Election Commission, Pegasus – these are all instruments of destroying the voice of the union of states," Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said and decried the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, while addressing the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, 2 February.
The comment prompted BJP leaders to intervene and stop him from making a reference to the Pegasus spyware further, as the matter is sub-judice.
In his earlier address, the Congress leader had said: "Disrespect me, but you cannot disrespect the people of the country."
Gandhi lamented the Presidential Address from the previous day, stating that it laid bare the idea of 'two Indias': one of the rich and the privileged, and one of the poor, and highlighted the absence of any mention of unemployment in the address.
"Not a word about unemployment in the presidential address."Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha
"Don't think that poor in this country will stay mum. This new, poor India is seeing everything, they can see that that the 100 richest in the country have more wealth than 55% of the country," he further said.
Appealing to the Narendra Modi-run administration, he said, "My suggestion to the PM is, bridge the gap between the two Indias as soon as possible."
'India is a Partnership, a Negotiation; Not a Kingdom'
The leader went on to remind the central government that India was a 'partnership, and not a kingdom' and asserted:
"You think you can suppress languages and cultures, you have no idea what you are dealing with...No matter what fantasies you (Modi government) might have, you will never ever rule over the people of the states of India. The only way India has been ruled, it has always been ruled by conversation and negotiation."Rahul Gandhi
He also alleged that the idea of a king has come back, and that the institutions of India are being attacked by one idea.
"The people of Tamil Nadu...the farmers of Punjab...they do not have a voice. Only the king has a voice," Gandhi said.
He cited a a recent instance, wherein a delegation of Manipuri politicians were asked to take off their shoes before meeting Amit Shah at his residence.
Demanding an apology from the Home Minster, he added, "What exactly does it mean? Why is it that in the Home Minister's house the Home Minister can wear his chappals but a delegation of Manipuris cannot? This is not the way to deal with the people of India."
'You Have Brought Pakistan & China Together, Isolated India'
He also accused the BJP government of having brought Pakistan and China together.
"The single biggest strategic goal of India's foreign policy has been to keep Pakistan and China separate. What you have done is, you have brought them together."Rahul Gandhi
"And this is the single biggest crime you can commit against the people of India," he added.
Pointing out that "we are all nationalists here", Gandhi said,
"I can see clearly that China has a plan...It is very clear that the Chinese and the Pakistanis are planning. Look at the weapons they are buying, look at who they are talking to..."Rahul Gandhi
The congress MP referred to the Republic Day celebrations and underlined the absence of a foreign dignitary saying, "Ask yourselves why you are not able to get a guest on Republic Day. Today India is completely isolated and surrounded....Our opponents understand our position."
'Unemployment is Highest in 50 Years'
Rahul Gandhi also highlighted the BJP administration's 'failure' in the face of fighting unemployment.
"UPA Govt pulled 27 crore people out of poverty in 10 years. This is not our data, this is factual data. You pushed 23 crore people back into poverty..You speak of providing employment, 3 crore youth lost their jobs in 2021. Today India is facing the highest unemployment in 50 years [sic]."Rahul Gandhi
He added that there could not be a 'Make in India' today, as the government had "finished" the small and medium industries. "You talk of Made in India, Start-Up India, but the youth didn't get the employment they were supposed to," he added.
Censuring the President's Address further, he descried it as "a list of bureaucratic ideas instead of a strategic vision."
"It (President's Address) looked to me as if it has been constructed not by a vision of leadership but by a group of bureaucrats who had to simply put something down on paper."Rahul Gandhi
'Immediately Apologise': Union Ministers Counter Gandhi
Gandhi's arguments in the Lok Sabha swiftly provoked retaliation from Union and BJP ministers, who took to Twitter to denounce his assertions.
Union Minster of Law and Justice, Kiren Rijiju stated:
External Affairs Minster S Jaishankar also retorted, saying, "In LS, Rahul Gandhi said we couldn't get a foreign guest for Republic Day. Those who live in India know we were in the midst of a corona wave. The 5 Central Asian Presidents, who were to come, did hold a virtual summit on 27 January. Did Rahul Gandhi miss that as well?"
'Not Suggesting That We Are Facing War Tomorrow': Shashi Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, meanwhile, offered clarification on Rahul Gandhi's Pakistan-China remarks, assuring that the country is not "facing war tomorrow."
We are saying, however, that the country has been weakened in both its domestic unity and strength and in its external national security. That, I think, is a very powerful and important message.Shashi Tharoor, as per ANI
(With inputs from ANI.)
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