Congress, BJP spar over attack on Rahul in LS


NEW DELHI : The Lok Sabha on Tuesday was disrupted and finally adjourned for the day after the Congress raised the issue of attack on Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat, and Home Minister Rajnath Singh countered it saying the Congress Vice President had violated security rules putting himself at risk.


Singh, while condemning the stone-pelting attack last week, accused Gandhi of overlooking his own security by not travelling in a bullet-proof car but using an ordinary vehicle for his tour. 

He also said that Gandhi never took Special Protection Group (SPG) with him on foreign tours undermining his own security, and questioned what he was hiding.

The attack, which took place during Gandhi's visit to flood-hit Banaskantha, was raised in the House by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge soon after it met.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who usually does not allow members to raise other issues during Question Hour, permitted Kharge but added that it should not be taken as a precedence.

She also made it clear she was not allowing any Adjournment Motion.

Mentioning the stone pelting on Gandhi's car in Banaskantha district of Gujarat, Kharge said: "He was visiting the flood affected area... It was a life threatening attack. He escaped luckily." 

"The government says in Kashmir stone pelting is done by terrorists. What type of terrorists attacked Rahul Gandhi's car? Were they from Kashmir? Have BJP workers in Gujarat turned into terrorists?" Kharge questioned, leading to a huge uproar from the treasury benches, which was countered by Congress members.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said it was wrong to compare BJP workers with terrorists and asked Mahajan to expunge the remarks.

Kharge accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of following the ideology of violence. "He is a martyr's son... We are not going to be afraid of anyone," he said.

"Our fight is non-violent. You talk about violence. We follow Gandhi, you follow (Nathuram) Godse..." he said. 

"Gandhiji said the democracy of his dreams is that of non-violence, which has no place for hatred. Your message is hatred, stone pelting and violence."

Rajnath Singh, however, questioned why Rahul Gandhi did not use the bullet-proof car provided to him by the SPG.

"There is no difference of opinion that Rahul Gandhi is a national leader..." the Home Minister said.

He said after landing for his programme in Banaskantha, the Congress Vice President was walking up to the bullet-proof car, but was advised by his secretary to take another car.

"He did not listen to the police, he took his PS' advise," the Minister said.

Congress members raised the pitch in protest, but the Minister continued.

Singh said there were black flags shown to the leader at his rally, and while he was supposed to be there for 15-20 minutes, he left in 7.5 minutes and headed for the helipad, and was attacked on the way.

"Someone from the crowd threw a stone. He was not hurt, but a security personnel was injured. Probe is on, one person has been detained and is in judicial custody," Singh said.

Singh added that for the next lap of his tour in Gujarat as well, Rahul Gandhi chose a normal car and not a bullet-proof one, adding that he has done that on several occasions, "almost 100 times in last two years".

"This has been brought to the notice of the office of the Congress President (Sonia Gandhi), his office and the Congress party," Singh said.

He said during his foreign tours, the Congress leader informs the SPG only a few hours before leaving, and hence they cannot accompany him as they should.

"The country would want to know where he went - that he did not want to take SPG cover," said Singh.

Singh also took a dig at the opposition party and said they needed to introspect why Gandhi was attacked while Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who also visited the area, did not face any protest.

"There was no sloganeering against the Chief Minister, Congress should introspect why such situation arose that people were protesting against Rahul Gandhi," he said.

Congress members, dissatisfied with the Minister's response, trooped near the Speaker's podium shouting slogans. The Speaker then adjourned the house till 12 noon. But it was soon adjourned for the day after it resumed.

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