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Rahul Gandhi’s opening knock as LoP rekindles the ‘controversy’s child’ tag

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Shillong, July 2: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s first speech in the Lok Sabha as the Leader of Opposition on Monday, during which he launched a scathing attack against the BJP and the RSS, has triggered a major political uproar in the country.

 

While sections of Rahul Gandhi’s address have now been expunged, the scorching speech prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rise twice and rebut the Congress leader’s claims.

 

While most leaders of the opposition INDIA bloc led by the Congress are backing their leader’s comments, Rahul Gandhi has been facing a backlash from all corners of the ruling dispensation — from Union Ministers in Delhi to BJP workers in the rural interiors of Uttar Pradesh.

 

Referring to the Emergency and 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Rahul Gandhi didn’t have the right to speak about non-violence, as he demanded an apology from the Congress leader.

 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also slammed Rahul Gandhi for his claims on the Agnipath scheme to recruit Agniveers into the armed forces.

 

“I met the family of an Agniveer. I call him a martyr. There is no pension for him, there is no status of a martyr. You are creating differences between soldiers,” Rahul Gandhi said on Monday.

 

Rebutting the claim, Rajnath Singh said, “The LoP should not mislead the House by giving false speeches. If an Agniveer dies during war or at the border, his family gets Rs 1 crore (as compensation).”

 

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju also criticised Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, saying, “We have made a request to the Speaker to pass a direction that if we have made any unverified statement, we are ready to take a corrective course.

 

“But if the Leader of Opposition has lied in the House, he will have to face the rules and regulations of the House. He (Speaker) has already assured the House that he will give necessary and appropriate directions in this regard.”

 

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, “Rahul Gandhi’s false statements made in the House are condemnable and shameful. Everyone knows who deprived Ayodhya of its identity. Today, when Ayodhya is re-establishing its glory and attracting the entire world, how can the Congress consider it as good?”

 

While Rahul Gandhi’s speech was marked by the same aggression that characterised many of his addresses during the recent Lok Sabha elections, he forgot that this time he was speaking in the Parliament as the Leader of Opposition, and not to a motley crowd of people comprising mostly of Congress supporters.

 

A senior Congress leader told IANS on condition of anonymity, “The problem with Rahul Gandhi is that he thinks in English and speaks in Hindi. It is not his fault entirely, because he has studied in English medium and has lived in a household where English was the preferred spoken language.

 

“Though he has overcome this problem to a large extent in the past few years, he still has a lot to learn. Another problem with him is that he is too straightforward and does not know how to sugarcoat his statements.”

 

Stating that the BJP also has an army of excellent orators, the Congress leader said, “BJP leaders speak in one language and one pitch while the opposition takes time to gather its wits and by then, the damage is done.”

 

A senior Samajwadi Party leader, who did not wish to be named, said, “Rahul Gandhi carried too much on his plate – he included almost every topic he could find, and as a result, things spilled over. As the opposition, we must be careful because the BJP is better equipped to deal with such onslaughts.”

 

Congress MP from Faizabad, Awadhesh Prasad, however, defended Rahul Gandhi and said that he did not make remarks against any community.

 

“Rahul Gandhi spoke about the mindset of the BJP and the ideology of the RSS. His remarks were targetted at the BJP and RSS,” he said. (IANS)

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