Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda on Friday, 17 March, upped the ante against Congress MP Rahul Gandhi over the latter's comments on India's democracy at an event in London on 5 March.
In a video address, Nadda said that the Congress party is indulging in "anti-national activities" and that Gandhi has become a part of the "anti-national toolkit."
Nadda's comments invoked a sharp reaction from Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, who recalled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speeches delivered abroad before coming to power in 2014.
Key statements by Nadda:
"India is becoming the fifth largest economy in the world and G20 meetings are currently underway but Rahul Gandhi is insulting the nation and the Parliament on foreign land," Nadda said.
Nadda said that asking for intervention on India's internal matters was a direct attack on India's sovereignty.
He further said that while rejecting the mandate for the BJP government by 130 crore Indians, Gandhi is "strengthening traitors."
"Rahul Gandhi said that democracy has been destroyed in India and asked for the intervention of Europe and the United States should intervene. What could be more shameful than this?" Nadda said.
"Why do anti-India people and the Congress speak the same language? Why does Pakistan and the Congress speak the same language?" Nadda asked.
The Congress hit back on Friday with its refusal to apologise for anything and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done exactly the same abroad before 2014.
Reacting to Nadda, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that the BJP-RSS are the first anti-nationals as they had "no contribution in India's freedom movement."
Taking to Twitter, Kharge said:
"Those who did not contribute to India's freedom struggle, they are the real anti-nationals. They are diverting from the real issues such as unemployment, price rise and the scams of the 'best friends' of the BJP."
"Modi ji himself has gone to 6-7 countries and said on foreign soil that 'people of India think they must have committed some sins to be born in India'. Is such a person calling us anti-national? @narendramodi, you have insulted the citizens of India, you should apologise."
"We strongly condemn JP Nadda's statements. He should know that Modi ji went to China, America, and South Korea to insult the citizens of India. PM Modi should apologise. There is no question of us tendering an apology."
"The one who talks about democracy, shows concern about it, cannot be an anti-national. He (Rahul Gandhi) is a true patriot. If he gets a chance to speak in the Parliament, we will give a befitting reply to these allegations of the BJP."
Congress MP Adir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the BJP is scared of Gandhi and hence it is not allowing him to speak in the Parliament.
Gandhi, who arrived in the Parliament for the first time on Thursday during this session said that he is "willing to speak in the Parliament if they allow him to."
Congress leaders took to protests in the Parliament complex following the war of words with the BJP. With Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Kharge, and Chowdhury present, party leaders raised slogans to demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe financial irregularities by business tycoon Gautam Adani.
The Congress had cornered the BJP in the parliament over the matter in the first phase of the Budget session and is attempting to do the same in the ongoing session.
How the BJP is upping anti-Rahul campaign: Nadda's comments come on the heels of the BJP taking the ongoing Parliament session by storm on the fifth consecutive day on Friday over Gandhi's address on Indian democracy in London at an event comprising of UK MPs, journalists, and academics.
The second phase of the Budget session has been disrupted daily with members on both sides clashing over the issue leading to frequent adjournments as the Congress party refuses to apologise.
Both houses were adjourned on Friday till 20 March following a ruckus on the matter.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey on Thursday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to form a committee to help "end" Gandhi's Lok Sabha membership on the grounds of insulting the Parliament and India's democratic institutions.
Eight Union ministers also met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Parliament House on Thursday to discuss the strategy against Gandhi.
Union ministers including Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Kiren Rijjiju, and other senior BJP leaders including Ravi Shankar Prasad have addressed the media several times in the past few days to slam Gandhi and the Congress party.
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