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Indian Democracy: How close to maturity?

Media Coverage | 18-03-2023

Won’t allow Parlt to function till Rahul apologises for his remarks: Thakur

Union minister of Information & Broadcasting, Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh Thakur, has made it clear the BJP would not allow the Parliament to function until Congress leader Rahul Gandhi apologised for his statements issued against India in foreign countries.

The Union minister charged that Rahul had has maligned the image of India by seeking intervention of foreign countries to ‘save Indian democracy’.

Thakur was interviewed by Marya Shakil, senior political editor of CNN-News18, during the Lokmat National Conclave in New Delhi.

The minister said Rahul had lost his mind after losing elections in the three north-eastern states. These elections clearly proved the minorities were firmly behind the BJP, he said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its recent report stated India was the only bright spot in the global economy. India’s leadership was being acknowledged and appreciated across the globe. Yet Rahul has launched a campaign to defame the country, Thakur said.

He further said that before claiming minorities were unsafe in India, Rahul should answer why he and his mother Sonia Gandhi never punished the Congress leaders involved in 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Emergency was imposed in the country by his grandmother Indira Gandhi. What right did he have to talk about democracy, Thakur asked.

He said that India is emerging as a global superpower under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Cambridge cries and London lies’ continues. He is not leaving any chance to insult India on foreign soil.

The minister claimed the model of corruption of the Gandhi family was being studied all over the world. Gandhis had taken money to confer Padma Awards. BJP had raised these issues but all the Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi were silent on the issue.

Replying to a query on misuse of investigation agencies, Thakur said all the leaders who were being investigated were corrupt and there was ample proof of it.

Rahul Gandhi should stop his “Cambridge cries and London lies” of democracy on decline and face the electorate in India, instead of seeking help from his “foreign friends”. Gandhi has been critical of India on foreign soil after losing a series of elections where the BJP and its allies emerged victorious, trouncing the Congress.

Former President Ram Nath Kovind honoured outstanding parliamentarians with Lokmat Parliamentary Awards for their exemplary contributions to the parliamentary democracy at a grand ceremony held at NDMC Convention Centre in New Delhi on Tuesday. This was the fourth edition of the Lokmat Parliamentary Awards. The ‘Lokmat National Conclave’ on ‘Indian Democracy: How close to maturity?’ was also held at the same venue. While expressing their views, Union ministers and BJP MPs attacked the Congress and claimed BJP government achieved in eight years what Congress could not achieve in 60 years. They said Congress, which indulges in dynastic politics, is the most anti-democratic at present despite being in power for years. Rahul Gandhi should publicly apologise for defaming the country in London and BJP will not sit idle if he did not apologise, said Union I&B and Youth Affairs & Sports minister Anurag Singh Thakur. Chairperson of Social Media and Digital Platforms of Indian National Congress Supriya Shrinate said that Rahul Gandhi will not apologise. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also made many controversial statements abroad.

West happy that India is

buying Russian oil: Puri

Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Petroleum & Natural Gas

Union minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas, Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday emphasised that Western countries were happy that India was buying large quantities of Russian crude. Had India bought oil from the Gulf, it would have pushed prices up significantly, he said.

Puri was interviewed by Shivani Gupta, senior associate editor of CNN-News18, at the Lokmat National Conclave held in New Delhi on Tuesday.  The minister made it clear India as a sovereign country had the right to source crude from wherever it got it cheapest. “It is impossible for any country to pressuri the Narendra Modi government on any issue. Earlier, India purchased crude from 27 countries but now the number of suppliers is 39. We are also buying more oil from the US along with Russia than before,” he said.

He termed the concern expressed by non-BJP parties regarding inflation as a joke. There was a difference of ₹15 per litre in prices of petrol and diesel between BJP-ruled states and those ruled by other parties as the latter had not reduced VAT on these fuels, Puri said.

Mocking Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Puri said he was happy with whatever Rahul was doing as soon he would be under fire from his own party. Congress leaders were saying in private that gains of Bharat Jodo Yatra had been wiped off due to Rahul’s irresponsible statements abroad, he said.

The minister termed Rahul’s statements as atrocious. Congress had used Article 356 of the Indian Constitution to dismiss legitimate state governments. Rahul’s grandmother Indira Gandhi had used it 50 times but BJP had not done this. “Indira had imposed emergency in the country. Yet Rahul was claiming democracy is under threat from BJP,” he said.

Calibrated efforts to defame

Indian judiciary: Kiren Rijiju

Union Law & Justice Minister

Union minister of law and justice Kiren Rijiju has alleged that there was a calibrated effort by some opposition parties and social organisations to undermine and defame the Indian judiciary by trying to portray a picture that the government was controlling it. He was confident that this effort would not succeed, he said.

Rijiju was interviewed by Dr Zakka Jacob, managing editor of CNN-News18, during the Lokmat National Conclave in New Delhi on Tuesday.

He said that the Indian judiciary was completely independent and his government was not interfering in its working. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had helped the judiciary the most, especially by digitizing its working, he said. Rijiju claimed that some vested interests were spreading lies in this regard.

He, however, objected to attempts of the judiciary to appropriate powers of legislature and executive. He said if the judiciary should be independent, then so should be the other two organs of democracy. He pointed out there was a huge pendency of cases in courts and asked if it meant the executive should take over judicial functions. He maintained that while the government was okay with any type of relationship as long as it was not illegal, it was against same sex marriages. Marriage was an institution and it was governed by laws enacted by Parliament. Any such law should be enacted by Parliament, which represented the will of people, he said.

On allegations by the Opposition parties regarding misuse of investigative agencies, Rijiju said that none of the BJP ministers were corrupt and hence there were no raids against them. He said the UPA government was full of corrupt ministers. The present government at the Centre had zero tolerance towards corruption, he asserted.

India progressing on all

fronts: Meenakshi Lekhi

Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture

Union minister of state for external affairs and culture Meenakhsi Lekhi said here on Tuesday that India was progressing on all fronts like pharma, military, and research & development of semi-conductors. As the investment in the country was going up post Covid, India was being recognised as a credible destination for investment, she claimed. Lekhi was interviewed by senior editor of Lokmat Samachar Vikas Mishra during the Lokmat National Conclave and parliamentary awards function in New Delhi on Tuesday.

She further said that India was a leader of Global South and also a major part of Northern, Western and Eastern globe, due to which it acted as a bridge between nations.

India not only took care of itself but also the world during Covid crisis. So it is emerging as a benevolent country, she stated.In response to a query, she said in a multipolar world any nation could build relations with any other country. That is why it there were no problems when Iran and Saudi Arabia shook hands with the active involvement of China as it would not have adverse impact on India.

Lekhi said Rahul Gandhi did not speak on how much graft occured from 2004 to 2014 in India. Now, Congress was raising the issue of threat to democracy only because its dynastic rule was challenged, she said adding democracy in India had reached the grassroots. Congress was decimated in North-Eastern states where tribals and Christian are dominant because it did not do any developmental work in that region. Referring to a question why BJP joined hands with NCP in N-E, she said it was because alliances formed a part of democratic system in India. Such allies were necessary to avoid a fractured mandate, she said.

India is fast becoming a

fascist state: Digvijaya Singh

Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha & Former CM of Madhya Pradesh

Digvijaya Singh, Rajya Sabha member and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, defended Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s statements against the Central government issued in some foreign countries. Singh concurred with Gandhi that democracy was in danger in India. He added that India was fast becoming a fascist state. Singh was interacting with Kishore Ajwani, managing editor of News18 India, during Lokmat National Conclave, held in New Delhi, supported by the Government of Telangana.

Singh said the Congress leader had not violated any law nor had he gone against some article of the Constitution.

When pointed out BJP was more popular than Congress, Digvijaya said Congress’ core votebank had remained intact but floating votes had been captured by BJP. Congress had not lost support of the masses. Moreover, whenever it formed a government in some state, BJP poached Congress MLAs using money and threat of investigation agencies. Thus BJP was making a mockery of democracy, he said.

While Digvijaya parried questions on whether Article 370 would be restored in Kashmir if Congress came to power, he stressed that its abolition was wrong. He said the proposal should have been sent by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.

On why India should not become a Hindu Rashtra, he said India was a diverse country and it would be a grave injustice to non-Hindus. Nepal was not a Hindu Rashtra despite 95% of its population following the religion. Singh pointed out that Pakistan, an Islamic state, was in dire straits.

Unemployment has increased in country: Sitaram Yechury

General Secretary of CPI (M)

General secretary of Communist Party of India (M) Sitaram Yechury has said the government should stop giving tax benefits to big corporates and instead make efforts to increase investment in government sector for job creation because in spite of giving tax sops to corporate sector, the production and demand were not increasing.

Yechury was speaking at the Lokmat National Conclave in New Delhi to senior journalist Raj Chawla. Yechury rued that demand was not increasing because purchasing power of the people was going down due to inflation. Though government had done massive spending on infrastructure, data showed 25 million youths were still jobless, he further said.

In response to a query, he said democracy was losing maturity in the last nine years, because it was limited only to voting and elections without any accountability to people.

When asked if Opposition could take on the BJP in 2024 elections when its own house was divided, Yechury said any viable alternative comes up only after polls. There were many regional parties whose influence was more than national parties, he said.

The opposition parties are being targeted without reason, he said in response to a question. Though probes were being conducted on a massive scale against Opposition, the conviction rate from such probes was only 0.5%, he added.

When democracy was in danger during Emergency, the Opposition united and today when democracy was again in danger, the opposition was getting united again, he further said.

Give us CBI, ED and see how

we use them: Raghav Chadha

AAP Leader & Rajya Sabha MP

The Aam Aadmi Party leader and member of Rajya Sabha, Raghav Chadha on Tuesday said democracy in India was in peril because institutions like CBI and ED were being subjugated and misused by the Central government which was trying to finish the Opposition in the country. Chadha was speaking during the Lokmat National Conclave organised in New Delhi. Senior journalist Archana Singh moderated the interaction.

In response to a query, Chadha said the comments of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against India in foreign countries were unwarranted and deplorable. But just as Rahul’s remarks against India on foreign soil were reprehensible, so were Prime Minister Modi’s remarks in Canada when the latter was in the Opposition.  Anyone could comment on functioning of the government but it was not acceptable if someone criticised his own country, Chadha said.

He also said corruption charges were being registered against AAP leaders because the objective of the Centre was not to finish corruption, but the Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. Though ₹8 crore were found from the house of a BJP MLA in Karnataka, he was granted anticipatory bail, but AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain were put behind bars, he said. In fact, maximum cases were registered against Opposition leaders between 2014 and 2018. If the arrested AAP  leaders had joined BJP, they would not have been jailed, Chadha charged. The present government at the Centre was misusing CBI and ED and putting Opposition leaders in jail because it did not want opposition parties to survive, he alleged. He said, “Give us both the CBI and ED and then see how we use them.”

Cong had established quasi-Islamic state: Trivedi

BJP Spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP

Rejecting all allegations of BJP being a fascist party, party’s national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi today alleged the Congress had established a quasi-Islamic state and India became a secular nation in true sense after BJP came to power in 2014. Trivedi was interviewed by Kishore Ajwani, managing editor of News18 India, during the Lokmat National Conclave in New Delhi.

The BJP spokesperson pointed out that no secular country, other than India, had Muslim personal law board, Waqf department. Adherents of all religions coexisted peacefully in India.

On misuse of central investigative agencies, Trivedi said that Congress and not BJP indulged in this practice. When the opposition parties were opposing against the tabling of PAC report on 2G scam, SP and BSP supported Congress and within 15 days the CBI cases against their leaders were closed. Cases have not been closed against any leader during the BJP regime, he said. He also accused Rahul Gandhi of telling half-truth and said he was not stopped from speaking in the Parliament.

The spokesperson claimed BJP was being blamed for cases that had been filed during tenure of other governments. Trivedi said BJP formed governments with other parties for the benefit of the nation but had never done so with Congress, whose ideology it did not like.

Govt is intolerant of criticism: Shrinate

Congress Spokesperson

Chairperson of Social Media and Digital Platforms of Indian National Congress, Supriya Shrinate said that the Union government could not tolerate criticism. Journalists were being targeted and their freedom being curbed for reporting facts, she alleged while speaking to Senior journalist Archana Singh during the Lokmat National Conclave held in New Delhi.

Defending Rahul Gandhi for his statement in UK that democracy in India was under threat  she said Modi remarked on foreign soil it was considered a sin of last birth to be born in India. So was it not an insult of 1 billion Indians, she asked. She asserted Indian democracy was for public good. There was no question of Rahul Gandhi seeking an apology. “If BJP has any problems with Rahul Gandhi why does it not speak in Parliament? When Rahul asks questions in Parliament on Adani, employment, China, BJP flinches away,” she said.

She further said Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra was successful because it was an ideological commitment. If BJP takes out such a yatra their world view would change completely, she added.

Irony is that when 20 soldiers laid down their lives in Galwan, India was increasing trade with China, she said. There is a trade deficit of 100 million dollars with China. Government should address such issues as well as that of inflation, she added.

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