BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Gandhi that India was witnessing the “death of democracy” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and accused the Congress leader of “shameful and irresponsible” remarks.
Prasad pointed out that it was Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who had stopped people’s democratic rights by imposing Emergency.
“Why do you blame democracy when the people of India reject you with repeated rule,” he said, asking Gandhi if there is democracy within his party which has some “good leaders” but it is all about the Gandhi family.
Addressing a press conference ahead of his party’s protest over issues such as price hikes and unemployment, Gandhi insisted that no institution in the country was independent and claimed that his family was being attacked for fighting for democracy and communal harmony. Those who raise people’s concerns and oppose the beginning of the dictatorship will be “brutally attacked” and put in prison, he said.
In his party’s counter-attack, Prasad said, “Stop demeaning India’s institutions to protect your corruption and misdeeds… If people don’t listen to you why are you blaming us.”
If people saw a dictatorship, it was during an emergency when people, including opposition leaders and editors, were jailed, judges were replaced, and censorship was imposed. Indira Gandhi had then spoken of having “exercised judicial power,” the former law minister said.
He pointed to the commission’s probe against Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and said the former Congress president must answer how Young Indian, a company in which the Gandhi two own 76 per cent, acquired National. Herald’s assets worth over Rs 5,000 crore with an investment of just Rs 5 lakh.
The judiciary refused to quash the charges against them and he was now blaming the institutions, the BJP leader said.
Rahul Gandhi will have to face the consequences of what he has done, Prasad said. “You will have to face trial and answer the ED’s questions,” he added.
“Price hike and unemployment are just an excuse,” he said of the Congress protests, adding, “the basic reason is to scare the ED and save the family.
He hit out at Gandhi for claiming that the opposition was not allowed to raise its issues in the Parliament and said the MPs also spoke during the price hike debate.
Union minister Anurag Thakur echoed the views and said the Congress’s street protests could not turn the “truth” of corruption charges against its leaders into a lie.
“They are trying to put pressure on the government and investigative agencies after doing corruption. BJP came to power in 2014 and had promised to provide corruption-free governance. This is what Modi has delivered in eight years. Investigative agencies are now working against corruption as was earlier,” he said.
“Should laboratories stop their work? Should some political parties be allowed to engage in corruption?” he asked.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should not obstruct the work of ED, he said, asserting that the agency was working under no political pressure and was functioning independently.
Both Rahul Gandhi and his sister, the Congress general secretary, were detained by the police during their party’s protest.
Both Prasad and Thakur also pointed to allegations of corruption against opposition leaders, including from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress. A large amount of cash and other assets claimed by them have been seized by the ED, they said.
Prasad said Rahul Gandhi had also leveled all sorts of allegations against Modi in the 2019 polls but people voted for him with a larger mandate.
The Modi government has been taking strong action against corruption and the Congress and the system around it are disrupted because democracy had become synonymous with financial malpractices when the opposition party was in power, he said.
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