Rahul Gandhi refused to apologize for his 'Rape in India' remark attacking the government at an election rally in Jharkhand, which became a centre of furious protests in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the Winter Session on Friday. The ruling BJP, including Union Minister like Smriti Irani, tore into the Congress leader, demanding an apology from him.
However, the Congress leader declined to accept the apology and accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of "diverting" attention from the "violent" situation in North East India over the passage of Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Parliament.
"No question on apology. The attempt is to divert attention from the violence that is taking place in various parts of the country, particularly northeastern India, over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act. The response of the BJP in the Parliament is a diversionary tactic," said Rahul.
#NewsAlert - I have a clip-on my phone in which Narendra Modi ji is calling Delhi a 'rape capital'. Just to deflect attention from protests in North East, this is being made an issue by BJP: Rahul Gandhi @_pallavighosh with details. pic.twitter.com/OLFzwSe1j2
— News18 (@CNNnews18) December 13, 2019
He further blamed the prime minister and Home Minister Amit Shah for the "burning" circumstance that Assam is currently reeling under.
"The primary issue that must be dealt with is how North East is burning because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. But they are trying to divert the attention by levelling allegations against me," alleged the Congress leader.
Earlier today, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had to adjourn the House sine die amid unrelenting protests and cries of "shame" from the government benches.
"For the first time in history, a leader is giving a clarion call that Indian women should be raped. Is this Rahul Gandhi's message to the people of the country? He should be punished," Smriti Irani said in the Lok Sabha.
During an election rally in Jharkhand's Rajmahal on Thursday, Rahul took a jibe at the prime minister by saying that Modi's 'Make in India' initiative has now turned to 'Rape in India', in an apparent reference to rising incidents of rape in the country.
#WATCH Rahul Gandhi, Congress in Godda, Jharkhand: Narendra Modi had said 'Make in India' but nowadays wherever you look, it is 'Rape in India'. In Uttar Pradesh Narendra Modi's MLA raped a woman, then she met with an accident but Narendra Modi did not utter a word. (12.12.19) pic.twitter.com/WnXBz8BUBp
— ANI (@ANI) December 13, 2019
Criticising Rahul for giving a statement that seemed like "an invitation to rape in India," Irani said, "Not all men are rapists. This is an insult to India... Rahul Gandhi is touching 50, and doesn't realise that such a statement seems like an invitation to rape in India."
Opposition members were also heard shouting slogans such as "We Want Justice" and insisting that Rahul be given a chance to respond.
Taking a dig at the Congress leader, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "People who make such remarks have no moral right to be a member of this house."
Earlier in the morning, as the ruckus continued for around half-an-hour, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings till noon and was unable to take up Question Hour.
Soon after the House paid tributes to those who lost their lives in the 2001 Parliament attack, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said several BJP members had given notices of adjournment against Rahul's remarks and should be allowed to speak.
Irani's party colleague Locket Chatterjee said Rahul had insulted women by making such a remark. She further said all men were not rapists.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Meghwal also said Rahul should apologise and recalled an earlier instance of Sadhvi Niranjana Jyoti saying sorry for remarks made outside the House.
More than 30 members from the BJP, including Sadhvi Pragya, were seen standing in the aisle and shouting slogans.
In the election rally in Jharkhand, Rahul on Thursday had lashed out at Modi, saying the latter wants to create an India that is "scared" where people are "weak and divided".
"Narendra Modi wants an India that is scared. He wants the people of India to be weak and divided. He has become the prime minister only by dividing people on the basis of religion, caste and region," he said.
The Assembly elections in Jharkhand became a multi-cornered fight with the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) breaking off from BJP to fight the elections on its own and other regional parties such as JVM among others already in the competition.
Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) have entered into a coalition to defeat the BJP, which is seeking to return to power under incumbent Chief Minister Raghubar Das.
The first phase of the election in the state took place on 30 November, while the second round was held on 7 December. The fourth phase will be conducted on 16 December, and the fifth and last phase on 20 December. Counting of votes will take place on 23 December.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2019 14:21:19 IST