New Delhi: The BJP demanded an apology from Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in Parliament on Tuesday for ridiculing its contribution to the freedom struggle and for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “mouse”.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House Piyush Goyal said: “He (Kharge) should apologise to the BJP, the Parliament and the people of this country who gave the BJP government an absolute majority. He has given us a glimpse of his mindset and jealousy.”
He added: “After independence, Mahatma Gandhi said the Congress should be disbanded. Khargeji is a living example of that and is showing the nation what Gandhiji said was true… he’s a national president who doesn’t know how to speak. Unless he apologises, he has no right to be here.”
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi also strongly condemned Kharge’s comments made on Monday, calling him a “rubber-stamp president of the Italian Congress”.
Joshi added: “I thought Mallikarjun Kharge had some common sense but it has been proved that he doesn’t.”
Kharge’s statement was made at a Mahasabha of the Congress in Alwar, Rajasthan on Monday, on the sidelines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The Sabha was attended by Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other senior leaders of the party.
In his speech, Kharge had said: “We (Congress) gave freedom to the country and Indira and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives for the unity of the country. Our party leaders gave their lives. What did you (BJP) do? Did even any of your dogs die for the country? Has any family member made any sacrifice? No!”
He had also attacked Prime Minister Modi and the BJP for remaining silent on the recent border skirmish with Chinese troops, questioning why the ruling party would not discuss it in Parliament.
“He (the PM) talks like a lion on the outside, but in reality, he acts like a mouse within. We are with the country but the government is hiding information,” Kharge had said.
Kharge, however, would not back down in Parliament on Tuesday. Responding to Goyal in Rajya Sabha – where he is the Leader of the Congress – Kharge maintained that his remark was made outside the House and that there was no need to discuss it in Parliament.
“What I said during Bharat Jodo Yatra in Rajasthan’s Alwar was outside the House… not inside. There is no need to discuss that here. Secondly, I can still say that they had no role in the freedom struggle,” Kharge said.
He further mocked the BJP: ‘“Maafi maangne waale log’ are asking people who fought the freedom struggle to apologise… I said Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed themselves. Who among you gave your life for the unity of this country?”
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha proceedings were also adjourned for half an hour on Tuesday over Kharge’s comments, soon after it convened at 11 am.
The treasury benches raised the issue and a heated exchange followed between Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
Also read: Veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge is Congress president, the 3rd Dalit in party’s 138 years