Congress, BJP spar over Rahul Gandhi during no-confidence motion

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi’s dig at the Congress for not fielding Rahul Gandhi as the first speaker in the debate on the no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government triggered a sharp exchange between the Opposition and treasury benches on Tuesday.

“What happened in the space of five minutes, sir? What is the problem, sir? We are very enthusiastic to listen to Mr Rahul Gandhi,” Joshi said as Congress’ Gaurav Gogoi stood up to initiate the debate.

The Parliamentary Affairs minister added that his statement was based on information that the Speaker’s office had been intimated through a letter that Rahul Gandhi would be opening the debate instead of Gaurav Gogoi.

The remarks evoked an angry response from the Congress. “Speaker sir, should we also reveal what’s happening in your office and what requests are being received? You are the protector of this House. Should we also reveal what the Prime Minister has said in your office,” Gaurav Gogoi retorted.

The Congress leader was interrupted by Home Minister Amit Shah who asked Gogoi not to make unsubstantiated claims.

The Speaker, Om Birla, said, “My office is also part of the House. You should never make any comments that have no basis in fact.”

Thereafter, the Congress MP submitted his motion that the House “expresses want of confidence in the council of ministers” and proceeded with this speech. If Rahul does not speak on Wednesday, it could lead to a face-off between Rahul and Modi on Thursday, a repeat of the no-confidence motion on July 20, 2018, when Rahul spoke during the day before Modi’s reply late evening.