The Congress appears to have distanced itself from the controversy over its leader Digvijaya Singh's tweet thanking Germany's foreign ministry for taking note of Rahul Gandhi's suspension from the Lok Sabha.
BJP leaders and union ministers have slammed Mr Singh over the tweet, calling it an open attempt to invite foreign powers to interfere in India's internal matters.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who is in charge of the party's communications, said the country's political problems should be solved from within, amid attacks by the BJP for allegedly trying to drag in foreign powers to influence India's internal matter.
"Congress firmly believes that India's democratic processes themselves have to deal with the threats posed to our democracy by Mr Modi's assault on our institutions and his politics of vendetta, intimidation, threats and harassment. Congress and opposition parties will take him on fearlessly," Mr Ramesh tweeted, without directly mentioning Mr Singh's comment that had led to a huge controversy.
.@INCIndia firmly believes that India's democratic processes themselves have to deal with the threats posed to our democracy by Mr. Modi's assault on our institutions & his politics of vendetta, intimidation, threats & harrasment. INC & Oppn parties will take him on fearlessly.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) March 30, 2023
Union Ministers Kiren Rijiju and Anurag Thakur slammed Mr Gandhi in tweets, repeating the allegation that he seeks foreign intervention in domestic affairs.
"Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India's internal matters. Remember, Indian judiciary can't be influenced by foreign interference. India won't tolerate foreign influence any more because our Prime Minister is Narendra Modi ji," Mr Rijiju tweeted.
Thank you Rahul Gandhi for inviting foreign powers for interference into India's internal matters. Remember, Indian Judiciary can't be influenced by foreign interference. India won't tolerate 'foreign influence' anymore because our Prime Minister is:- Shri @narendramodi Ji 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/xHzGRzOYTz— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) March 30, 2023
The Congress has rubbished the charge, challenging the BJP to produce examples of Mr Gandhi requesting such an intervention. Mr Gandhi has only been speaking about the state of affairs in India in his engagements abroad and not asking for help, his party has said, referring to his speech in the UK recently.
"Thank you Germany Foreign Affairs Ministry and Richard Walker for taking note of how democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of Rahul Gandhi," Mr Singh had tweeted, referring to Germany acknowledging it has been tracking the developments concerning Mr Gandhi after he was disqualified from the Lok Sabha following his conviction in a defamation case over asking if everyone with the surname "Modi" was a "thief".
Thank you Germany Foreign Affairs Ministry and Richard Walker @rbsw for taking note of how the Democracy is being compromised in India through persecution of @RahulGandhihttps://t.co/CNy6fPkBi3— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) March 30, 2023
Germany on Thursday said that "fundamental democratic principles" should apply in the case of Mr Gandhi. "We have taken note of the verdict of first instance against the Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi as well as the suspension of his parliamentary mandate. To our knowledge, Mr Gandhi is in a position to appeal the verdict," a German foreign ministry spokesperson said during a press briefing. "It will then become clear whether this verdict will stand and whether the suspension of his mandate has any basis," she added.
Earlier this week, the US said that it is watching the Rahul Gandhi case and they continue to engage with the Indian government on a shared commitment to democratic values, including freedom of expression.
The criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi was filed by Gujarat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi.