A senior opposition political leader in India has warned of “consequences” if the “attack” on democracy in his country continues.
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, Rahul Gandhi told reporters: “There is a sense in India that the democratic structure of the country and its institutions is under attack by the group running India. This point is not being missed by anyone even those with little understanding of India.
“The fight for democracy is our responsibility and we will take care of that – the Opposition will make sure of this.”
He is a member of the Indian Parliament, who represents the constituency of Wayanad, Kerala. He led the Indian National Congress Party campaign in the 2014 Indian general elections but the party suffered one of its worst electoral results in its history.
Gandhi was at a packed Brussels press club as part of an EU wide speaking and fact finding trip.
He said he wanted to engage “in an exchange of ideas about what is going on in India and the challenges it is facing.”
He spoke of a current “attack on democratic institutions” in the country, saying there were “serious underlying issues with this.”
He said, “We are in a fight for democratic rights and freedom. There is a sense in India that the democratic structure of the country and its institutions is under attack by the group running India.”
“It is a full scale attack on the institutions and democracy and minorities are also under attack. There seems to be an attempt to change the nature of our country.”
“The current economic path is not sustainable and there will be certainly be consequences and a backlash.”
After leaving his position as President of the Congress party, he is credited with having put all his focus and energy into representing the people of Wayanad and taking on the government on a number of issues.
However, he added that “by and large” the opposition agreed with the ruling party on its policy towards the war in Ukraine, saying, “India has a relationship with Russia and the opposition would not have a different view on this.”
On the thorny issue of Kashmir, he said, “We must ensure every single person has a voice and is allowed to express themselves. I believe Kashmir should be able to make progress and that there should be peace there.”
“But Kashmir is India’s business. It is an internal issue and no one else’s business.”
On China, he said, “China is proposing a particular vision for the planet but I do not see an alternative vision from our side. The challenge for us is this: can we provide an alternative vision to the China model?”
He said that the public had “been coming in droves to see me” during his tour so far.
Meanwhile, speaking ahead of the G20 summit Indian, EU council chief Charles Michel has warned about another possible health crisis.
He said, “We need to be ready for the next global health emergency. Multilateral coordination is the gold standard in tackling these massive and unpredictable challenges. I remember that two years ago together with Dr Tedros, we made the proposal to launch negotiations for an international treaty. We need to deliver on this and step up our efforts. We sent this to the World Health Organisation, and I am confident that this G20 meeting will be the occasion to express support for a successful negotiation that will take place next May.”
He added, “The European Union is a constructive and reliable partner to the international community. We are a strong voice for more multilateralism and more cooperation between nations. This G20 comes at a critical time for multilateralism and for the future of the world. These are challenging times.”
“Trust is the pillar of multilateralism. I sincerely hope that these two days will help to build more trust. Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation’. Let’s be inspired by those words. You can count on the EU.”