Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said if the Indian democracy was functioning, then he would be able to speak in Parliament to respond to the allegations made against him by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Last week, Gandhi had claimed in London that India was facing an attack on the basic structure of its democracy and that there is a “full-scale assault” on the institutions of the country. He had alleged that microphones of Opposition leaders were muted in Parliament and described the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a “fundamentalist” and “fascist” organisation.

His remarks have led to an uproar in Parliament, with both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha failing to carry out any significant proceedings on the first four days of the second leg of the Budget Session that started on Monday.

Senior Cabinet ministers, including Rajnath Singh, Piyush Goyal, Anurag Thakur and Kiren Rijiju, have accused Gandhi of defaming India on foreign soil and asked him to apologise in Parliament for his remarks.

But as he came to Parliament on Thursday for the first time since the row erupted, Gandhi told reporters that had not made any anti-India speech.

At a press conference later, the former Congress chief said, “I went to Parliament this morning with the idea of putting [forward] what I have said or what I feel on the floor of the House. Four ministers have raised allegations against me in Parliament House, it is my right to be allowed to speak on the floor of the House.”

Gandhi said the Lok Sabha was adjourned a minute after he had entered the House. “So if Indian democracy was functioning, I would be able to say my piece in Parliament,” he said. “What you are seeing is a test of Indian democracy. Whether an MP is going to be given the same space as those four ministers were given or is he be going to be told to shut up.”

The Congress leader said he had spoken with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla about his right to speak in the House. Birla was “non-committal” and just smiled, he added.

Gandhi said he is hopeful that he would be allowed to speak in Parliament on Friday.

The Wayanad MP also said the controversy about his remarks in London is meant to distract the public from the questions he had raised in his speech in Parliament last month.

“I had asked some fundamental question about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationship with businessman Gautam Adani,” he said. “The whole idea is that all those questions must not be on the table and that is why this whole exercise of four-five ministers...”

The Adani Group has been mired in a controversy since United States-based investment firm Hindenburg Research in a report on January 24 accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and unsustainable debt.

The Congress along with other Opposition parties have been demanding an investigation into the allegations by a joint parliamentary committee. On Wednesday, the Delhi Police had stopped leaders of 16 Opposition parties from marching to the Enforcement Directorate office as they demanded an investigation by the central agency.

Addressing the media at Parliament House on Thursday, Rijiju justified the BJP’s protest in Parliament. “If Rahul Gandhi destroys Congress, it is not a matter of interest for us,” the law minister said. “If he tries to hurt the country, being the citizen of this country, we cannot remain silent.”

He also accused the Congress leader of “speaking in the language of anti-India forces”.