'Government Wants to Carve Out Internet for Corporates': Rahul Gandhi on Net Neutrality

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Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi arrives at Parliament during the Budget session, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Press Trust of India photo)


New Delhi:  Rahul Gandhi today accused the government of "carving out the net and handing it over to corporates" as he took up the cause of net neutrality in his second speech in Parliament in three days.

"Over 1 million people are fighting for net neutrality," the 44-year-old Congress vice president said in the Lok Sabha, asking for a change in the law or a new law to protect net neutrality.

Rahul Gandhi spoke during the Zero Hour, when ministers are not supposed to respond to members, but IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad made an exception.

"We want internet for 125 crore Indians. Don't worry, we will protect the future of the Net," Mr Prasad said.

"Rahulji, you are a senior leader. We want to tell the house that we are not under pressure from any corporates," he added. He also took a swipe at the Congress, alleging that twitter handles were blocked by the UPA regime.

Before the exchange was over, #RGforNetNeutrality was trending on social media. The clash continued outside the house.

Mr Gandhi told reporters, "Like they are snatching land from farmers, they are taking away the rights of internet users. They did not answer my question, just gave a roundabout answer."

Ravi Shankar Prasad retorted, "Rahul Gandhi is wrong on the land issue and super wrong on the net neutrality issue."

This was Rahul Gandhi's second intervention in the Lok Sabha from the opposition benches. On Monday, he made a speech on farmers' problems and called the government a "suit-boot ki Sarkar."

From the farm crisis, Mr Gandhi segued today to a cause that his party believes has huge resonance among the youth - net neutrality, or the principle that Internet service providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally and allow users to access all websites at the same speed and cost.

Mr Gandhi is attending Parliament after a mysterious two-month sabbatical that raised speculation about his political future. On Monday Congress leaders exulted as his speech started trending with the hashtag #RahulRoars, and a "resurgent Rahul" became the talk of the town.

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