Parliament logjam can end with Rahul’s unambiguous apology: Hardeep Singh Puri

Hardeep Singh Puri
Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister, in a file photo

An unambiguous apology from Rahul Gandhi can end the logjam in Parliament, Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday as he slammed the Congress leader for his recent remarks in the United Kingdom. Addressing a press conference, Puri categorically rejected Gandhis claims on the prevailing situation in India and urged him to clarify if he was “playing to an agenda.

During his interactions in the United Kingdom recently, the former Congress chief alleged that the structures of Indian democracy were under attack and that there was a “full-scale assault” on the countrys institutions.

The remarks have triggered a massive political row, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accusing Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking external interventions and the Congress hitting back, citing instances of Prime Minister Modi raising internal politics abroad.

If any individual goes outside the country, he has the freedom to speak. But along with that freedom comes a sense of responsibility, Puri said.

He said India is undoubtedly the worlds largest and oldest democracy. But for Mr Gandhi to go to the United Kingdom and say that the basic structure of Indian democracy is facing attack… Anyone who suggests, even as a private citizen, that Indian democracy is under threat, requires serious introspection, the minister rued.

The Housing and Urban Affairs minister demanded that the Gandhi scion unequivocally apologise for his remarks to bring the issue to a closure.

To begin with, I think, you need closure and the closure will only come if he apologises. And, he should apologise categorically, unequivocally, he demanded.

Asked how the logjam in Parliament would end, Puri said, This is absolutely a call that he (Gandhi) has to make.

He should apologise unambiguously and say that he made a mistake… My understanding is that it will pave the way and facilitate the functioning of Parliament,” he added. The BJP leader also noted that freedom of speech, civil liberties, free press and an independent judiciary are part of the basic structure of democracy in India.

“Which of these (four) components, which make up the Indian democracy, are saying they are under attack?” he asked.

“There has been only one occasion in our history when civil liberty and freedom of speech was completely eliminated, and that was the imposition of Emergency in June 1975,” he charged. On freedom of press, Puri claimed media is having “a field day” in India by criticising the government through print, electronic and social media platforms.

“I think the relationship between media and the political system… Many members of the media ecosystem take great delight in taking credits and advertisements from the parties which are in opposition and they give them a free play,” he said.

“I have never seen any constraints being placed on anyone,” he added.

The minister asserted that judiciary in India is also not facing any pressure from the government. There is a “healthy interactive process” between the judiciary and the government, he said.

“I just saw the participation of eminent members of the judiciary, including those occupying the highest position in the judicial system…They say we are not under pressure,” Puri said, without naming the event. “There are certain things that the government feels, and I think rightly so, that in a separation (of powers and functions) of the executive, legislature and judiciary, executive has a role to play. If judiciary encroaches upon, it is our right to say that,” he said. “But, are they under any pressure?” the minister wondered, adding “On the contrary, we have the judiciary pronouncing on how state systems are to be run.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)