Hitting back at Gandhi after he alleged that India is witnessing the “death of democracy” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress leader of making “shameful and irresponsible” comments.
Prasad noted that it was Rahul Gandhi’s grandmother and then prime minister Indira Gandhi who had suspended people’s democratic rights by imposing Emergency.
“Why do you blame democracy when the people of India reject you with repeated regularity,” he said and asked Gandhi if there is democracy within his party which has some “good leaders” but it is all about the Gandhi family.
In a press conference ahead of his party’s protests over the issues such as price rise and unemployment, Gandhi alleged that no institution in the country is independent and claimed that his family is attacked because it fights for democracy and communal harmony. Those who raise people’s issues and stand against the onset of dictatorship are “viciously attacked” and put in jail, he said.
In his party’s counter-attack, Prasad said, “Stop demeaning the institutions of India to safeguard your corruption and misdeeds… If people don’t listen to you why are you blaming us.”
If people saw dictatorship, it was during the Emergency when people, including opposition leaders and editors, were jailed, judges superseded and censorship imposed. Indira Gandhi had then spoken about having “committed judiciary,” the former law minister said.
He highlighted the Enforcement Directorate’s probe against Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and said the former Congress president must answer as to how Young Indian, a firm in which the two Gandhis have 76 per cent stake, allegedly acquired the National Herald’s assets worth over Rs 5,000 crore with the investment of only Rs 5 lakh.
The judiciary refused to quash charges against them and he was now blaming institutions, the BJP leader said.
Rahul Gandhi will have to face consequences for what he has done, Prasad said. “You will have to face trial and answer the ED’s questions,” he added.
“Price rise and unemployment are merely an excuse,” he said of the Congress’ protest and added, “the basic reason is to intimidate the ED and save the family.”
He hit out at Gandhi for alleging that the opposition was not allowed to raise its issues in Parliament and said Congress members had also spoken during a debate on price rise.
Union minister Anurag Thakur echoed the views and said the protests by the Congress from Parliament to the streets cannot turn the “truth” of corruption charges against its leaders into a lie.
“They are trying to apply pressure on the government and probe agencies after doing corruption. The BJP came to power in 2014 and had promised to give corruption-free governance. This is what Modi has delivered in eight years. Probe agencies are now working against corruption done earlier,” he said.
“Should investigation agencies stop their work? Should some political parties be allowed to do corruption?” he asked.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should not obstruct the ED’s work, he said, claiming the agency works under no political pressure and functions independently.
Both Rahul Gandhi and his sister, a Congress general secretary, were detained by police during their party’s protest.
Both Prasad and Thakur also noted the allegations of corruption against opposition leaders, including those from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress. Large amount of cash and other assets allegedly acquired by them have been seized by the ED, they said.
Prasad said Rahul Gandhi had levelled all kinds of allegations against Modi during the 2019 polls as well but people elected him with a bigger mandate.
The government under Modi has been taking strong measures against corruption, and the Congress and the system around it are rattled because democracy had become synonymous with financial irregularities when the opposition party was in power, he alleged.