London, March 6: “Democracy in India is for the global public good. If democracy is weakened in India, then it affects a large number of people. It is a democracy three times the size of the USA and hence it is essential,” said Indian MP Rahul Gandhi at the UK parliament on Monday, March 6. Stating that India’s freedom movement was non-violent, Gandhi stated that India’s values are now under attack. “I don’t like an India where people are not allowed to speak.”
Addressing a large group of MPs, Lords, and Ladies of the British parliament, and members of the intelligentsia, Gandhi spoke on his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and how walking for 146 days and traversing 4000 kilometers gave him a new perspective on things. “It was a fantastic learning experience which helped me learn about the country with a little more depth and nuance.”
Before he arrived at the Palace of Westminster’s Grand Committee Room, a large group of people awaited in a queue; many looking forward to his speech, some hoping to get a picture with him. Gandhi arrived donning a suit and a sharper haircut, completely different from the white t-shirt and uncut hair that he was seen with during the Yatra.
He informed the attendees that the Yatra, which he claimed to be “the largest mass mobilization movement in India in the last ten years,” has now made him listen more. “When you are walking 4000 km you need a certain amount of patience. The more I hear the more I learn. There is a sense of togetherness that comes with the yatra. The central idea is that India needs to start talking again.”
Training his guns on the Narendra Modi government, Gandhi claimed that free space in India is suppressed. “I see India as a negotiation of ideas, of many languages and cultures. We need a structure for that and for that we need a free press, parliament house, and judiciary. These structures are under attack by the RSS-BJP who are coercing these institutions.”
When asked by one of the attendees what he would do as Prime Minister if he were to get elected, the MP from Wayanad, Kerala, stated that he would focus on jobs and development and will “reclaim democracy and make sure that institutions do not align with one ideology.” He elaborated that there is a need to improve production and manufacturing. “The future of India is very good if we take care of this turbulent period where structures are being attacked. India has tremendous potential.”
After the event, Gandhi had a small ‘yatra’ in the Westminster Hall and then left in a hurry with his entourage as several attendees attempted to request selfies and handshakes.
British MP from Ealing, Virendra Sharma, who invited Gandhi to the event stated that as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on India (Trade & Investment) “I believe in the value of the relationship between India and the UK. This is a partnership of equality between both countries. To me, this means promoting culture and collaborating without selfishness.”