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Monday, October 2, 2023

Full-Scale Assault On Indian Democracy: Rahul Gandhi

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London, Sept 8: There is a full-scale assault on the democratic institutions of India and there are concerns in the European Union (EU) quarters over this attempt to “stifle” the country’s democratic structures, Rahul Gandhi said on Friday as he pledged that the Opposition will stop this “onslaught on our freedom”.

The Congress leader, who is on a European tour starting with Belgium, addressed a broad range of topics at a media briefing in Brussels, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict to say that the Opposition agrees with the government’s current position on the issue.

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On India hosting the G20 Summit, Gandhi said it was a “good thing” and pointed to the lack of an invitation for Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge to the event as reflective of a “type of thinking” from the government that “did not value the leader of 60 per cent of India’s population”.

“There is an increase in discrimination and violence in India and there is a full-scale assault on the democratic institutions of our country, which everybody knows,” said Gandhi.

Asked about the reaction of the European parliamentarians to some of these issues, he replied: “They were very concerned and they felt that there is an attempt to stifle the democratic structures of India, for sure. I mean, they were very, very clear with us,” the 53-year-old leader said.

“The democratic fight and the fight for democracy in India is ours. And it’s our responsibility, and we will take care of it. We will make sure that the sort of onslaught on our institutions and our freedom is stopped. The Opposition will make sure it happens,” he added.

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He said he has had “fruitful” conversations with parliamentarians and members of the diaspora at the start of his European tour, which is part of a wider initiative to travel around the world with the Opposition’s vision and have an open exchange of ideas.

“We discussed with the parliamentarians across the board the relationship between India and Europe, the changing globe, transition into a new sort of energy paradigm, into a new mobility paradigm… we were giving them a sense of the type of challenges India’s facing – economic challenges, other challenges. The general sort of attack on the democratic institutions,” he said.

“Internally in India it’s been commented on and globally it’s been commented on. And, of course, minorities are under attack but so are many other communities – dalit, tribal and lower caste communities are also under attack. There is an attempt to change the nature of our country,” he added.

On the issues that arose during his discussions with members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Gandhi said the violence in Manipur was among the topics raised from the perspective of “democratic rights, harmony and peace between people” and pointed out that when countries are “dealing with India these days, there are other considerations which are also important”.

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“The G20 is an important conversation and it’s a good thing that India is hosting it. Of course, there are issues in India that we raise (internally),” he said.

“India is a large country and by nature of being a large country, it will have relationships with many other countries. So that’s a normal thing. India has every right to have a relationship with whoever it wants… the Opposition, by and large, would agree with India’s current position on the [Russia-Ukraine] conflict. We have a relationship with Russia and I don’t think the Opposition would have a different view than what the government is currently proposing,” he said in response to a question.

In response to a question on Kashmir, the Congress leader stressed that the region was an “integral part of India” and therefore, nobody’s business to interfere.

“The general discussion we’re having here is that democratic institutions and democratic structures need to be protected in India and the voice of the people needs to be defended and protected, that goes for every single part of India, including Kashmir,” he said.

Asked about the diminishing role of the public sector in India, Gandhi stressed that the Congress did not have a problem with the private sector, but against a monopolistic agenda.

He said: “Where we draw the line is where one or two people start to financially control the whole country; where one or two people or three people are running everything. That’s where our problem begins. There’s another element to this, which is that government policies in India have systematically attacked the backbone of our employment system.

“So, it’s a two-pronged attack that the government is carrying out: number one, impose huge transaction costs on all small and medium businesses and ensure that you build two or three monopolies/monopolists who control pretty much everything… our problem with Adani is he controls the ports, he controls the airports, he controls agriculture, he controls grain silos, he has real estate, I mean he’s everywhere and dominant everywhere,” he said.

“We think that’s counterproductive for the country. On one side, they are pushing this very monopolistic capital and on the other side, they are devastating the small and medium industries from where we get jobs; that’s why we are having an unemployment crisis,” Gandhi said. (PTI)


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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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