“Every MP’s Right”: Rahul Gandhi Questions Expunging Of Parts Of Speech

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi – whose scorching speech in Parliament Monday, which triggered a furious pushback from the BJP and interventions, twice, from Prime Minister Narendra Modi – wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla this morning to question the expunging of parts of that address.

Mr Gandhi acknowledged the Speaker’s authority to “expunge certain remarks” but argued this power ought only to be exercised to strike out “those kinds of words… the nature of which have been specified in Rule 380 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha”.

“I am, however, shocked to note the manner in which considerable portions of my speech have been simply taken off from the proceedings under the garb of expunction. I am enclosing relevant portions of uncorrected Debates of Lok Sabha dated July 2… constrained to state the portions expunged do not come under the ambit of Rule 380,” the Congress leader told Mr Birla.

“What I sought to convey in the House is ground reality… the factual position… every member of the House who personifies the collective voice of the people whom he or she represents has freedom of speech…. it is every member’s right to raise people’s concerns on the floor of the House.”

“I am writing this in the context of remarks and portions expunged from my speech during discussion on Motion of Thanks on the President Address on 1 July 2024.”

Here is LoP Shri @RahulGandhi‘s letter to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. pic.twitter.com/3Cepk0TtMy

— Congress (@INCIndia) July 2, 2024

“It is that right… I was exercising yesterday. Taking off from records my considered remarks goes against the very tenets of parliamentary democracy,” Mr Gandhi wrote.

The Congress leader also flagged a speech by Union Minister Anurag Thakur, which he said was “full of allegations” had only seen one word removed. “… This selective expunction defies logic,” he said.

Sections of Mr Gandhi’s first speech as the Leader of the Opposition were struck down this morning, including comments about Mr Modi and the BJP, and the latter’s ideological mentor, the RSS.

READ | To Rahul Gandhi’s Jab At BJP, A Response From RSS

Comments about alleged irregularities in the NEET medical entrance tests and the Agnipath military recruitment scheme (he was fact-checked by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh) were also removed.

READ | BJP Alleges Rahul Insulted Hindus, Parts Of Speech Expunged

Among other points raised, Mr Gandhi had demanded an immediate debate on the NEET row.

Mr Gandhi’s no-holds-barred jabs provoked Mr Modi – who does not usually intervene when an opposition leader is speaking in Parliament – to stand up twice.

The BJP’s immediate fightback also included Home Minister Amit Shah demanding an apology, while his cabinet colleagues Kiren Rijiju and Ashwini Vaishnaw led a considered rebuttal in the evening.

READ | 2 Ministers, MP Lead Fightback Against Rahul Gandhi’s Speech

Mr Vaishnaw and Mr Rijiju, and Rajya Sabha MP Sudhanshu Trivedi, accused Mr Gandhi of belittling his post and of making an “extremely irresponsible speech” that inflicted a “grave insult” on Hindus.

Mr Modi is due to respond to Rahul Gandhi’s speech; he will speak in the Lok Sabha this evening and is expected to address the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

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