- Defence Minister counters acerbic Rahul Gandhi address at Congress meet
- Says Gandhi's attack on Amit Shah, PM Modi devoid of substance
- Says Congress can't lecture on judicial independence, media freedom
Minutes after Mr Gandhi's address at the 84th plenary session of the Congress, in which he took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and its chief Amit Shah, the defence minister addressed the media. Accusing the Mr Gandhi of insulting the Hindus with his reference to religion and his party of being anti-technology for its insistence on a return to ballot paper, she left the most crucial points for the last.
Referring to Mr Gandhi's remarks on party chief Amit Shah, Ms Sitharaman said: "It is astonishing that the Congress president chooses to name the president of BJP and says he is a murder accused. He has been cleared by a court. The charge does not hold, even though the charge was a complete conspiracy against him. It was a conspiracy based on fraud and you continue to say this".
The accusation, she added, was being made by someone who shares his surname with Mahatma Gandhi, and is out on bail in the National Herald case.
On Mr Gandhi's accusations that the government was curbing the independence of the media and judiciary, Ms Sitharaman reminded the Congress leader of the Emergency imposed his grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the controversial defamation bill, seen as an instrument to curb free speech, planned by the government led by his father, Rajiv Gandhi.
"Since when has the Congress become protector of judiciary? Do I have to remind how Indira Gandhi treat the judiciary when one verdict went against them? Rajeev Gandhi in 1988 almost brought the bill and during that phase, how many cases were filed against the media? And their son and grandson is talking about press freedom," Ms Sitharaman said.
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