At a Parliamentary panel meet on Saturday, Rahul Gandhi spoke at length about his speech in London amid the BJP's allegation that he insulted the country abroad by questioning the state of democracy. The Wayanad MP said that he only raised questions about India's democracy, and could not be labelled "anti-national" for that, according to sources.
At a Parliamentary Consultative Committee chaired by the External Affairs Ministry, Mr Gandhi also added that he did not ask any other country to intervene.
According to sources, the former Congress chief told the leaders present that he believes this is an internal matter and they will solve it.
The meeting, which was also attended by Foreign Affairs minister S Jaishankar, was aimed at discussing India's G20 presidency. At the start of the meeting, Mr Jaishankar gave a detailed presentation on the G20 presidency to the committee members.
Chaired the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for External Affairs on India's G20 Presidency.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) March 18, 2023
Thank members for their active participation. pic.twitter.com/3DW5HrR5zq
Rahul Gandhi, who did not speak in the opening round, responded after a MP raised the issue of political leaders trying to score brownie points by talking about Indian democracy on foreign land.
Remarks by Mr Gandhi were countered by BJP MPs saying that this was not the appropriate platform to speak on this topic. A few other MPs present at the meeting also supported the argument put forward by the BJP MP while many opposition MPs supported Mr Gandhi's right to clarify or defend himself given the oblique reference in the meeting to his remarks made during his London visit.
Sources further added that some BJP MPs, without taking any names, said that emergency was the biggest blot on India's democracy and some people are trying to divert the attention from India's G20 presidency.
Amid the heated argument, Mr Jaishankar stopped Rahul Gandhi from replying to these statements and told all the leaders to say these things in the Parliament.
He asked Mr Gandhi to speak only on the subject of the committee and not political topics.
A massive row has erupted over Rahul Gandhi's comments in London, with at least four Union Ministers demanding his apology in and outside parliament.
The first week of the Budget session has been washed out due to protests and sloganeering in both houses.
While the BJP has been demanding an apology from Mr Gandhi, the Opposition is adamant on a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the allegations by US shortseller Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group.
At Cambridge University, Mr Gandhi had said that Indian democracy is under pressure and opposition voices are being stifled. "The institutional framework which is required for democracy -- Parliament, free press, and the judiciary, just the idea of mobilisation, and moving around all are getting constrained. So, we are facing an attack on the basic structure of Indian democracy," he had said.