Rahul Gandhi alleges ‘full-scale assault’ on democracy in India, brings up Manipur during Europe visit

World leaders have begun arriving in India for the G20 Summit (September 9-10), but Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has alleged during his ongoing Europe visit that there is a “full-scale assault” on the democratic institutions of India.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Europe visit has started with a round of talks with members of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Photo courtesy: Instagram/rahulgandhi

The Opposition leader said today that parties against the ruling BJP would stop the “onslaught on our freedom”.

He also raised the subject of unrest in the northeast Indian state of Manipur during his talks with European Parliament members in Brussels, Belgium. This particular discussion was in the context of a resolution entitled ‘India, the situation in Manipur’, adopted by the European Parliament in July.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs had called the European resolution on Manipur an example of “colonial mindset”. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said in July, “The European Parliament would be well advised to utilise its time more productively on its internal issues…. Such interference in India’s internal affairs is unacceptable, and reflects a colonial mindset.”

Rahul Gandhi during his trip to violence-hit Manipur. Photo courtesy: Instagram/rahulgandhi

Now, Rahul Gandhi has brought up the issue of Manipur in Europe, though his discussions with European Parliament members were not listed on the official parliamentary agenda of the day.

Speaking in Europe, the Congress leader said, “There is an increase in discrimination and in violence in India and there is a full-scale assault on the democratic institutions of our country — that everybody knows.”

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

However, he said in his media briefing that the Opposition bloc agreed with the Government of India position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Asked about the reaction of the European parliamentarians to some of the issues discussed, Rahul Gandhi 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.”

He added, “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.”

Rahul Gandhi with Indian telecom inventor Sam Pitroda in Brussels. Photo courtesy: Instagram/rahulgandhi

He said that he had “fruitful” conversations with parliamentarians and members of the Indian 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 is facing — economic challenges, other challenges. The general sort of attack on the democratic institutions,” he added.

The Congress leader alleged that several sections of the Indian populace were “under attack”. 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 communities, tribal communities, lower caste communities are also under attack. There is an attempt to change the nature of our country.”

After Brussels, Rahul Gandhi’s next stop is Paris, where he is expected to hold a meeting with French parliamentarians tomorrow and interact with students at the Sciences Po University. The day after, he will be in the Netherlands, visiting the 400-year-old Leiden University and interacting with students. Monday will see him in Norway, where he will meet the country’s parliamentarians in the capital Oslo. He would also meet non-resident Indians and attend a meeting at the University of Oslo.