Congress’s Rahul Gandhi has hit back at BJP over allegations that he had “defamed” the country abroad, alleging that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who did that by discrediting the country’s achievements since Independence. The BJP has accused Mr Gandhi of maligning India abroad after repeated electoral defeats, after his address at his alma mater Cambridge University.
“I recall the Prime Minister going abroad and announcing that noting has been done in the 60 or 70 years of Independence,” Mr Gandhi told reporters at an India Insights event organised by the Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) on Saturday evening.
“I remember him saying there was a lost decade… there is unlimited corruption in India. I remember him saying this abroad… I have never defamed my country. I’m not interested in it. I’ll never do it. Of course, the BJP liked to twist what I’m saying. That’s fine,” he added.
“But the fact remains that the person who defames India when he goes abroad is the Prime Minister of India… You have not heard his speech where he said nothing has been done in India since Independence, insulting every Indian parent, grandparent?” he added.
PM Modi was slammed by the Congress in August 2015 for his comments in Dubai that he has “inherited problems of indecision, lethargy from the previous government”.
In May that year, during a visit to South Korea, he had said: “There used to be a point in time when people used to regret being born in India and leaving the country saying it is no good. They wanted to leave for better opportunities… Now, those people are saying they are ready to come back even if their incomes are lower than in other places. The mood has changed”.
Mr Gandhi’s comments at the Cambridge University that the Indian democracy is under attack and several politicians, including himself, are under surveillance, have become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP.
The former Congress chief had also said the he was under surveillance through the Israeli spyware Pegasus. He listed five key aspects of the alleged attack on Indian democracy — capture and control of the media and judiciary, surveillance and intimidation, coercion by federal law enforcement agencies, attacks on minorities, Dalits and tribals, and shutting down of dissent.
“In a big university, he is telling people bad things about India. While even Pakistan no longer dares say these things about India on a global forum, Gandhi is presenting it as a place where democracy is no longer there and the judiciary has been compromised,” the BJP’s Sambit Patra said.
Without naming Mr Gandhi, Union law minister Kiren Rijiju said “calibrated attempts” are being made from inside and outside the country to tell the world that the Indian judiciary is in crisis.
“A message is being sent to the world that Indian democracy is in crisis. It is a deliberate attempt by some groups to malign the image of the country,” he added.
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