Rahul Gandhi did not take "political clearance" from the government before flying to London, which all MPs need to do, sources claimed today.
All MPs need to inform the Ministry of External Affairs three weeks before any foreign trip and seek political clearance, said government sources, adding that they need to post details on the foreign ministry website.
But the Congress MP did not do so, the sources said. They said invites to MPs from foreign governments or institutions need to be routed through the foreign ministry.
"If the invitation comes directly, then political clearance is needed from the foreign ministry. All MPs have been asked to ensure that they do so before travelling abroad," said official sources.
The protocol circulated among MPs says members have to apply for political clearance on the foreign ministry website three weeks in advance. "All invitations from any foreign source, namely, government of any country or any foreign entity are expected to be routed through the Ministry of External Affairs. However, in case such an invitation is received directly, Members are required to bring it to the notice of the Ministry of External Affairs and necessary political clearance of that Ministry should also be obtained for the purpose," the rules say.
"Seeking timely political clearance from MEA will enable them to make a recommendation to the Member taking into account the stature of the foreign entity extending the invitation, the appropriateness of the forum, public interest, etc," they say, adding that it applies for private visits too.
The Congress, lashing out at media reports quoting sources, said MPs "don't need" any such political clearance and blamed the reports on "PMO (Prime Minister's Office) WhatsApp suggestions" sent to various channels.
"MPs don't need political clearance from the PM or government unless they are part of an official delegation. Please don't blindly follow the PMO WhatsApp suggestions sent to TV channels," wrote Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Twitter.
Rahul Gandhi's visit to the UK has made headlines because of his remarks criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at an event at Cambridge.
PM Modi is creating a vision of India that is not inclusive and excludes huge chunks of the country's population, the Congress leader said on Monday.
"My problem with the RSS and the Prime Minister is that they are fiddling with the foundational structure of India. When you play the politics of polarisation, when you isolate and demonise 200 million people, you're doing something extremely dangerous and you're doing something that is fundamentally against the idea of India... I'm sure there are good things the Prime Minister has done, but for me attacking the idea of India is unacceptable," he added.
The BJP has accused Rahul Gandhi of harming India in his "hate" against Prime Minister Modi and betraying the country with his critical comments from foreign soil.