Signalling early onset of the winter chill in Parliament that meets a week later, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, responding Thursday to BJP allegations of wrongdoing and corruption levelled against him, dared the Prime Minister to launch a probe against him and “lock me up if I am found guilty”.
Breaking his silence on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s allegations that he had claimed to be a British national in documents before company law authorities in the UK, Rahul said: “They are using their chamchas to throw dirt at me. I challenge the Prime Minister… show your 56-inch chest and use all the agencies available with the government to probe me for six months. And lock me up if I am found guilty.”
Mounting a sharp attack on the BJP-led government at a meeting organised by the Youth Congress on the 98th birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi, Rahul said: “Since childhood, I have been witnessing the RSS and their cronies attacking my grandmother, my parents, and now me. I am not scared of them.”
“There is not a shred of truth in all the dirt they are throwing at me. Mr Modi, you are not in the Opposition now, you are in the government. Why don’t you use your resources to investigate me,” he told the gathering while mother Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders looked on.
He focused his speech on what he called the “communal agenda” of the government. “On the one hand, there is the RSS and on the other, radical forces like SIMI. The Congress has always been defending the country from these elements and we will continue to do that. A few fanatics like the RSS give the whole community a bad name,” he said.
“Look what happened in Bihar. They say we are only about 40 MPs in the Lok Sabha. I say, if we are such a small force, how did we stop the land bill which was anti-farmer and anti-poor. In Bihar the BJP was hoping for a sweep. A sweep did happen but of the other kind. Let me assure you, the same will happen in the coming elections in the states,” he said.
The hardening of stance by the Congress comes a week ahead of the winter session of Parliament. It is learnt that the Opposition parties may decide to participate in the special discussion on the Constitution planned for November 26 and 27 but are likely to corner the government thereafter.
Opposition parties, especially the Left, JD(U) and Congress, are in talks to place the government on the mat, particularly in Rajya Sabha where they have a numerical advantage, on the “rising acts of intolerance”. The issue is likely to figure in a big way in the discussion on the Constitution too with many MPs saying that incidents like Dadri and the language used by some ministers were in violation of Fundamental Rights laid down in the Constitution.
The Opposition hopes to up the ante November 30 onward. A slew of notices including under rules that require voting have been submitted for a discussion on intolerance. They are likely to draw attention to remarks made by ministers V K Singh, Mahesh Sharma and Sanjeev Balyan and seek their resignation.
JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP K C Tyagi said: “Whether Parliament will run or not and whether business will be transacted depends on the ruling party. We will make it a point to participate in the Constitution debate with all dignity due to such an occasion though it is not possible to discuss that without issues like right to religion and free speech… it is all very well that the government has agreed to a debate on intolerance and a reply by the Prime Minister but what is the point when there are at least five ministers in his government who have made intolerant speeches. Unless these ministers resign, there cannot be any meaningful discussion.”
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