Did USA openly support Rahul Gandhi? Is US meddling in India’s affairs?
Republic TV has alleged that US State Department had come out openly supporting Rahul Gandhi. But is it true?
Rahul Gandhi was termed disqualified from the post of Member of Parliament from Wayanad Constituency after a Surat Court awarded him 2 years jail sentence in a criminal defamation case. The case was filed in 2019 when Rahul Gandhi rhetorically said “But tell me one thing…Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi…how come they all have Modi as common name. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common name?”
It has been reported that Rahul Gandhi was asked to vacate his government housing 12 Tughlaq Lane. Incidentally, he spoke about him not having a house and the one he is currently staying at, is not his house. Now, he has been asked to vacate the house and Rahul responded that he would abide by the letter asking him to vacate the Government house. Post all the drama surrounding Rahul Gandhi, many have been showing their support to him in person & in social media. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge offered his residence and actor Prakash Raj tweeted “every HOME who want to save our COUNTRY from these tyrants is your HOME .. .. INDIA is your HOME .. you are most WELCOME..”
Apart from this, many have expressed their support and their concern over rising trends of authoritarianism by the Modi Government. Many articles have been written about these trends & some of them can be read here, here and here. Academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta opined, “Institutionally and psychologically, we are already inhabiting a tyranny, even if its violence is not in your face.” Similarly, opinion pieces that support Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification have also appeared.
Vedant Patel, the Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the US’ Department of State conducted a press briefing on 28th March 2023 and in the press conference, Shaun Tandon asked a question about Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification. His exact question was, “Just in terms of other democracies invited to the summit, India. Rahul Gandhi, the opposition leader, has been expelled from parliament. Do you have anything to say about that? Is that consistent with democratic values?”
Vedant Patel responded by saying, “respect for the rule of law and judicial independence is a cornerstone of any democracy, and we’re watching Mr. Gandhi’s case in Indian courts, and we engage with the Government of India on our shared commitment to democratic values – including, of course, freedom of expression.”
There was no mention of any support to Rahul Gandhi or condemnation of Rahul’s disqualification. It was purely a diplomatic answer to a pointed question by a journalist covering the affairs of the State Department. This response has been dubbed by the right-wing news outlet “Republic TV” as the meddling of India’s internal affairs by the United States of America.
Here’s a glimpse of tweets by Republic TV on the matter. For your convenience, you can access the keyword search results here.
For reference, here’s how almost all other media outlets reported the same incident.
Apart from Republic TV, almost all other news outlet reported the incident on its merit. To be on the contrary & build up on the mass hysteria that the right-wing ecosystem has created, Republic TV chose to exaggerate the event with a delirious tone. In fact, a primetime debate was conducted on the topic with various panelists to talk on the topic that is based on a wrongful interpretation of what happened.
Meddling by the US?
United States of America is accused of meddling with internal affairs of various countries in the past and rightfully so. But, this particular exchange between a reporter and a spokesperson from the State Department is being totally blown out of proportion by Republic TV. The video of the press conference can be seen below, and the entire transcript of the press briefing can be accessed here.
During the press briefing, before coming to the topic of India, questions were raised about the political turmoil in Israel and the dramatic fallout between the Netanyahu Government & its citizenry over the controversial judicial overhaul by the Government. As part of that line of questioning, a question was raised by a journalist about the invitation of Israel to the “Summit of Democracy”. Shaun Tandon “piggybacked” on the question regarding the Summit of Democracy and brought up the situation in India. Quickly after, the conversation moved towards Mexico and followed by bunch of other countries.
Here’s the index of the press briefing’s transcript showing various countries & topics discussed:
So, by the logic of Republic TV, can an inference be drawn stating that US is meddling with all these countries? That would be futile, irrational and outright ridiculous. A press briefing by United States’ State Department should be seen as just that. A country’s government informing its citizens about the country’s stand on various developments from across the globe. Several topics would be discussed, and several countries would be discussed. But, that is not an evidence to claim meddling of the said country in another country’s affairs.
Moreover, India is a strategically important country for the United States, especially as a counter to the Chinese dominance in Asia and beyond. Apart from the bilateral relationships that India & United States share, the countries are also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) which also includes Japan and Australia. It would be foolish for US to meddle in India’s affairs and talk about it in an open press briefing, as it would put years of diplomatic work in jeopardy.
Is Germany meddling too?
Apart from the US, the spokesperson for the Germany’s Foreign Ministry had said that Germany too is taking note of Rahul Gandhi’s court case & its verdict and that they expect judicial independence & fundamental democratic principles apply in the case of Rahul Gandhi as well. Can this be termed as an act of meddling in India’s affairs by Germany?
NEW: Rahul Gandhi case
German Foreign Ministry spokesperson comments for first time:
– Takes note of verdict, suspension from parliament
– Appeal will show whether verdict stands & suspension has basis
– Expects standards of judicial independence & democratic principles to apply pic.twitter.com/dNZB6vflG2
— Richard Walker (@rbsw) March 29, 2023
The demand for an apology:
After Rahul Gandhi’s speech in UK where he stated India’s Democracy is in danger, BJP and other like minded parties claimed that Rahul invited US, UK and other countries to intervene in India’s affairs & demanded an apology. Rahul Gandhi categorically denied these allegations and pointed out that he said “it is India’s problem and the solution will come from inside (India)“.
Rahul Gandhi was put under pressure to apologise and he was denied an opportunity to talk in the Parliament by the BJP, when he said he would explain his UK comments in the Parliament. This is one of the extremely rare cases when a ruling party disrupts the Parliament proceedings, as it usually is done by the opposition parties. It seems like Republic TV took the cue from BJP’s narrative of Rahul asking foreign intervention and had gone overboard to perpetuate it in the minds of its audience.
Quite recently, there have been several such misreporting from many news outlets that can be read below:
- Is Narendra Modi the strong contender for Nobel Peace Prize?
- Did US say PM Modi can convince Russia to stop the war in Ukraine?
- Several news outlets report on A Raja’s 2G case based on a Times of India advertorial!
- News outlets world over claim part of the Sun broke away. It didn’t.