A huge row erupted in parliament today as the ruling BJP demanded an apology from the Congress over controversial comments by its chief Mallikarjun Kharge.
Mr Kharge made the comments yesterday while hitting back at the BJP for mocking Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra as “Bharat todo (Divide India)”.
At a rally in Rajasthan's Alwar, the Congress president said the Grand Old Party “won independence for the country”, and its leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives.
“Has even your dog at home died for the country? Still, they (BJP) claim to be patriots and if we say something we are termed as deshdrohi (anti-nationals)."
Mr Kharge also slammed the government for not allowing a discussion in parliament on the border clash with China, saying: "They (BJP government) talk like a lion outwardly, but if you see they act like a mouse.”
Stung by the comments, the BJP raised strident calls for an apology as soon as the day began in parliament. “We condemn Mallikarjun Kharge's comments, the way he used offensive language and tried to spread a lie. He should apologise for using offensive language in Alwar,” said Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in Rajya Sabha.
As the demand triggered chaos in the House, Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said the comment was made outside parliament.
“The country's 135 crore people are watching us. It is possible that someone got carried away and said something outside… You are not children,” he said.
Mr Kharge, scoffing at the apology demand, doubled down on his comments and explained the provocation. “If I repeat myself here, it will be very difficult for these people (BJP), because those who apologised during the freedom struggle are asking those who fought for freedom to apologise. They said that the Congress is conducting a ‘Bharat Todo (Divide India) Yatra'. That's when I said Congress has always worked on Bharat Jodo (uniting India). For this, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi gave their lives. What have you done? Who do you know has sacrificed for the country,” said the Congress chief.
Piyush Goyal shot back: “I think they (Congress) don't remember your history. They don't remember the condition that Jammu and Kashmir was in because of the Congress, the threat of Pakistan, China's occupation, the insult of BR Ambedkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel…”