The Congress on Wednesday dismissed media reports that former party chief Rahul Gandhi needed “political clearance” to visit London, saying MPs do not need any such clearance from the government, unless they are part of an official delegation.
“MPs don’t need political clearance from PM or Govt, unless they are part of Official Delegation. Please don’t blindly follow the PMO WhatsApp suggestions sent to TV channels,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet. Surjewala also tagged a media report which quoted the government sources to say Gandhi did not take political clearance from the government to visit the UK.
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Another media report also quoted the government sources and said all MPs need to inform the Ministry of External Affairs three weeks before any foreign trip and seek political clearance, adding that they need to post details on the foreign ministry website.
Reacting to reports, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also tweeted that “he (Rahul Gandhi) is not a journalist who needs clearance from PMO to do his journalism”.
The Congress’ reactions to the media reports came after Gandhi’s meeting with British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in London triggered a row back home with the BJP asking him whether he endorsed the UK opposition leader’s “anti-India” views.
The Congress defended Gandhi’s meeting and shared pictures of Corbyn with Narendra Modi to ask whether the Prime Minister too endorsed the “anti-India” views of the UK Labour leader and MP.
Also during the London visit, Gandhi, while addressing an event on ‘India at 75’ at Cambridge University on Monday evening, alleged that there is a “systematic attack” on the institutions that allow India to speak and as the conversation is being stamped out, the “deep state” is entering those spaces and redefining the way that conversation is happening in the country.
At another ‘Ideas for India’ event in London, Gandhi on Saturday had said the “deep state” in India is “chewing” the Indian state much like in Pakistan, as he launched a frontal attack on the Modi government. The ruling BJP had hit back at Gandhi and branded him a “part-time, immature, unsuccessful leader” who betrayed the country with his remarks made on foreign soil.
Sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said MPs are not required to seek permission from it while visiting abroad in a personal capacity though there has been a Convention that the MPs inform while going abroad.
As far as ministers are concerned, they have to seek permission from the government before travelling abroad.