Meets with lawmakers, diaspora on agenda of Rahul’s Europe visit
Gandhi’s last official trip to Europe in this year was controversial. At an event in London on March 6, he said democracy in India was under threat.
Former Congress president and Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi will visit Europe next month to meet European Parliament lawmakers, university students, and members of the Indian diaspora in what is seen as his latest outreach programme, said people aware of developments.
Gandhi will participate in an interactive session with a group of European parliamentarians in Brussels on September 7. The programme was planned a while ago but had to be deferred, a Congress leader said, declining to be named.
Earlier this year, the European Union (EU) said it was closely following the criminal defamation case against Gandhi and his disqualification from Parliament. The Supreme Court has since stayed his conviction and reinstated Gandhi in the Lok Sabha.
Gandhi’s visit coincides with the G20 Summit in New Delhi. These meetings were planned earlier and it is a coincidence that Gandhi will be in Europe when India will host the summit, a second Congress leader said, asking not to be named.
The Congress lawmaker will also go to Paris to interact with university students, and may also meet people at a few think-tanks. He is also scheduled to visit Oslo, the Norwegian capital, to interact with the Indian diaspora.
Gandhi’s last official trip to Europe in this year was controversial. At an event organised by think tank Chatham House in London on March 6, he said democracy in India was under threat. Gandhi maintained that the erosion of democratic values in the country was an internal problem, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party alleged that the Opposition leader had sought foreign intervention.
“It is India’s problem and the solution is going to come from inside. It is not going to come from outside. However, democracy in India is a global public good,” Gandhi had said. “If Indian democracy collapses, in my view, democracy on the planet suffers a very serious, fatal blow.”
He added: “It is important for you, too. You must be aware of what is happening in India… the idea of a democratic model is being attacked and threatened.”
The comments triggered protests in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Union ministers, including defence minister Rajnath Singh and commerce minister Piyush Goyal, demanded Gandhi’s apology in Parliament. In response, the Congress dismissed the demand, saying Gandhi did not say anything for which he needed to apologise.
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