DAYS AFTER he was disqualified as a member of the Lok Sabha following his conviction and sentencing for two years in a defamation case over his Modi surname remark, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday was asked to vacate the official bungalowallotted to him within 30 days.
Meanwhile, cutting across party lines, the Opposition continued to rally around Rahul, with even the Trinamool Congress (TMC), in a rare display of unity, attending a meeting of Opposition parties called by Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, and also participating in the protest later.
Amid the ruckus in the House, the Rajya Sabha returned the Finance Bill-2023 with an amendment to Lok Sabha in the afternoon. The Lok Sabha later cleared it amid protests by Opposition members.
Holding placards with slogans like “Save Democracy” and “Investigate Scamster Modani”, the Opposition, especially the Congress, ensured that both the issues — Rahul’s disqualification and the demand for setting up a JPC into the allegations against the Adani Group — were merged and raised in one voice, with the larger refrain being that the BJP government was trying to silence the voice of the Opposition.
According to sources, the notice to Rahul to vacate the Tughlaq Lane bungalow was served by the House Committee of the Lok Sabha chaired by BJP MP C R Patil. “Its just a formality. Once you have lost your membership, you will have to give up your privileges and perks as an MP. Sending notice for eviction is just a formality,” said sources.
Congress leaders said while the party is confident that a higher court will stay his conviction, Rahul will not wait for 30 days to vacate the house. Once a notice is issued, the occupant can seek to retain the house for one more month by paying the market rent.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition protest, at the Gandhi statue in Parliament, was led by Kharge and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. Holding a huge banner with “Satyamev Jayate” written on it, the MPs later proceeded towards Vijay Chowk where they staged a sit-in. Almost all the Congress MPs, including Kharge and Sonia, and many of their Opposition counterparts were dressed in black to protest against Rahul’s disqualification.Advertisement
In August 2021, Sonia had told top Opposition leaders that there was “simply no alternative” but to work “cohesively together”, leaving aside their individual “compulsions”. Two years later, the Opposition parties are showing a semblance of unity in Parliament — although it is still distant on the ground.
Missing in action, however, was the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), which attended the meeting in Kharge’s chamber but stayed away from the protest and march. The party also skipped the dinner hosted by Kharge in the evening.
Among the parties which attended the meeting were the TMC, DMK, AAP, SP, JD(U), BRS, CPI(M), RJD, NCP, CPI, IUML, MDMK, Kerala Congress, RSP and the National Conference.Advertisement
The Shiv Sena (UBT) is upset over Rahul’s remarks on V D Savarkar. At his press conference on Saturday, asked how he views the BJP’s demand for an apology for his comments abroad, Rahul had said: “My name is not Savarkar. My name is Gandhi and Gandhi never apologises to anyone”. On Sunday, Uddhav told the Congress that he and his party would not tolerate insults to Savarkar.
An editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana said on Monday: “By making defamatory statements against Savarkar, the sympathy gained by Rahul Gandhi (over his disqualification) will start ebbing. This will, for sure, put the Maharashtra Congress in an uncomfortable position.”
“We’re wearing black to show how Modiji is trampling upon democracy in this country,” Kharge told reporters at a joint press conference, adding that the BJP had been destroying autonomous bodies, toppling elected governments, besides threatening and intimidating elected MLAs.
“They use the ED and CBI against those who don’t bow before them. In the Rajya Sabha, we are asked to authenticate whatever we say. We followed all procedures to ask for a JPC to be set up to probe the meteoric rise in Adani’s wealth,” he said. Kharge said Rahul was disqualified because he asked tough questions to the Prime Minister on his “relationship” with Adani.
“The government has not been able to answer the questions we raised,” he said, and asked why the government was scared of constituting a JPC when it has majority in Parliament. He said it was a black day for democracy. “Such things never happened earlier… for small things… The government disqualified Rahul Gandhi in minutes… with lighting speed… because it does not want him to speak in Parliament… the government wants to gag him… and not let him speak about Adani,” he said.Advertisement
Later in the evening, Kharge hosted a dinner for Opposition leaders at his residence. While both Sonia and Rahul were present, the others at the dinner including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and T R Baalu, AAP’s Sanjay Singh, CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem and CPI’s Binoy Viswam.Most Read 1 Gadar 2 box office collection day 4: Sunny Deol film records biggest Monday collections of all time, nets a total of Rs 173 cr 2 Bigg Boss OTT 2 Finale Live Updates: Elvish Yadav wins Salman Khan’s show, Abhishek Malhan shares message from hospital 3 Happy Independence Day 2023: Wishes Images, Whatsapp Messages, Status, Quotes, and Photos 4 OMG 2 box office collection day 4: Pankaj Tripathi-Akshay Kumar film delivers better Monday than opening Friday, earns Rs 55.1 cr 5 Jailer box office collection Day 5: Rajinikanth film set to cross Rs 350-crore mark worldwide on Independence Day
According to sources, the parties decided to take the Adani issue to the people, and authorised Sonia, Kharge and Pawar to reach out to all Opposition leaders and convene a meeting at the earliest.Advertisement
“Tonight floor leaders of 18 Oppn parties met at the residence of @khargeji and with one voice decided to continue with their campaign against the Modi regime that is destroying democracy & that has subverted all institutions… They expressed their collective resolve to combat Modi’s politics of fear & intimidation. This resolve will be reflected in joint actions outside Parliament beginning now,” tweeted Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary in-charge, communications.Also ReadNarendra Modi Independence Day Speech Live Updates: India now identified ...Govt SOP for Judges: Do not name officials for court panelsShivaji statue vandalised in Goa, police initiate inquiry‘Will return to Red Fort next year’: In Independence Day speech, PM Modi ...
The Congress also announced that it will hold nearly three dozen press conferences across the country in the next two days on the Adani issue and Rahul’s disqualification, starting with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu in Lucknow and Chandigarh respectively on Tuesday. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will address a press conference in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, while other senior leaders including Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari will be deputed across 30 cities.© The Indian Express (P) Ltd