Rahul Gandhi UK Visit: Addressing Parliament and Meeting Indian Diaspora Amidst Controversy
Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Indian parliament, has caused a stir with his recent visit to the UK. During his 10-day stay, he plans to address the British Parliament, meet with members of the Indian diaspora, and participate in a press conference organized by the Indian Journalist Association, among other activities. His stay in London will be for three days.
Despite criticism from the ruling BJP party for his lecture at Cambridge University, Gandhi’s visit to London from March 4-6 will include speaking at the British Parliament, interacting with members of the Indian diaspora, holding private business meetings, and giving a talk at the renowned think tank, Chatham House, according to India Today.
Accompanied by Sam Pitroda, the head of the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC), Gandhi’s visit to London is considered an “attachment” to his earlier presentation at Cambridge University, as stated by Pitroda to India Today.
Rahul Gandhi to Address UK Parliament and Meet Indian Diaspora
According to a report by India Today, Rahul Gandhi is set to address the UK Parliament in the Grand Committee Room of the Palace of Westminster on March 6. The event was arranged by the Chair of the Indo-British APPG and Indian-origin MP Virendra Sharma, who emphasized the importance of embracing the cultural, social, and business ties between the two countries.
Gandhi will also interact with around 2,000 members of the Indian diaspora community in London. Furthermore, there is a possibility that he may meet David Lammy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs in the Labour Party. However, there is no official confirmation yet.
Criticism from BJP
As a Visiting Fellow at the Cambridge Judge Business School (Cambridge JBS), Rahul Gandhi delivered a lecture titled ‘Learning to Listen in the 21st Century’ to university students.
Gandhi expressed concern in his speech that Indian democracy is threatened and claimed that several politicians, including himself, are under surveillance.
During the lecture, Gandhi also addressed the controversial Pegasus snooping issue and alleged that the Israeli spyware was installed on the phones of many politicians, including himself.
The BJP criticized Gandhi for his statements, claiming he was “hallucinating” and making false claims to gain publicity. They accused the Congress leader of seeking attention wherever he went.
BJP spokesperson Tom Vadakkan dismissed Rahul Gandhi’s claims as “hallucinations” and stated that if the Congress leader made his MoU with China public, the people of India would be interested to know. He also questioned who would be interested in Gandhi’s telephonic conversations.
Sambit Patra, also from the BJP, rebuked Gandhi’s claims made during his lecture. Patra criticized Gandhi for allegedly ignoring India’s sacred river, the Ganges while paying attention to China’s Yellow River. Patra also accused Gandhi of claiming the Pegasus spyware on his phone but failing to submit it for investigation.
Gandhi’s comments on China face backlash from BJP
During his Cambridge lecture, Gandhi compared the value that Americans place on individual liberties to the Chinese emphasis on harmony within society. However, his remarks have come under fire from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for being too sympathetic to China, particularly given the current standoff between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since 2020.
In his speech at Cambridge University, Gandhi highlighted that the Chinese cultural context is marked by historical upheavals and trauma, and that their priority is to maintain social harmony in order to avoid chaos and disorder. This is as legitimate a concern for them as individual liberty is for the United States.
The BJP spokesperson, Amit Malviya, criticized Gandhi for justifying China’s authoritarianism and promoting the idea that the Chinese prioritize societal harmony over individual freedom.
The BJP also shared a video titled ‘Congress-China Bhai Bhai’ (‘Congress and China are brothers’) as part of their criticism of Gandhi’s remarks. Gandhi has acknowledged China’s economic dominance and has engaged in discussions with senior Chinese leaders.
BJP Leader Rajyavardhan Rathore accused Gandhi of being a “Chinese agent.”
In a Hindi tweet, Rathore accused Gandhi of viewing India as a pawn of China and failing to acknowledge India’s growing power. He also criticized Gandhi for his previous comments on the Galwan valley incident, which he claimed were undermining Indian national security.
Assam CM’s on Gandhi Speech
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has accused Lok Sabha MP of denigrating India on foreign soil in the guise of criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at Cambridge University. Sarma presented a ten-point rebuttal on Twitter, providing “facts” contradicting Gandhi’s statements.
Recommended reading: India Joins Quad, resists to not directly name Russia in the joint statement