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Soon after MPs assembled for the second phase of the Budget session, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh condemned Rahul Gandhi in Lok Sabha for his remarks and said the former Congress chief must apologise.
"Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of this House, insulted India in London. I demand that his statements should be condemned by all members of this House and he should be asked to apologise to the nation," said Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha.
In Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said it was "shameful" that a senior leader had insulted India's democracy on foreign soil.
Several other BJP ministers echoed the demand as the Congress hit back, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also denigrated past governments abroad. Opposition MPs protested at the centre of the house. The chaos led to an adjournment of Lok Sabha.
"Those crushing and destroying democracy are talking of saving it," Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, told reporters later. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and K Chandrasekhar Rao's BRS also backed the Congress and participated in the joint opposition press conference. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, however, stayed away.
At a meeting this morning, top BJP leaders reportedly decided that party MPs would strongly oppose Rahul Gandhi's comments in both houses. PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and other Union Ministers, Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi and Anurag Thakur, were at the meeting.
Opposition leaders also held a meeting earlier today to firm up their floor strategies. They discussed plans to corner the government on issues such as the alleged misuse of probe agencies and the Adani-Hindenburg row. The meeting, attended by 16 parties, was held at Mallikarjun Kharge's office.
Mr Kharge said the opposition would continue demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the allegations by US shortseller Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group.
Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has also announced a protest against the alleged misuse of agencies. Party leader K Kavitha was yesterday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case.
The Budget session of Parliament, which began on January 31, is likely to conclude on April 6.
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