MPs from the Opposition alliance INDIA on Tuesday moved a privilege notice against Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal for calling them “traitors”.
The motion is raised when a legislator breaches the privilege granted to them, including freedom of speech, to conduct business during parliamentary debates. The right to raise a privilege motion is based on satisfying two conditions: the question shall be restricted to a specific matter of recent occurrence and it requires the intervention of the Privileges Committee.
The motion can be admitted by the chairperson of the House who can then refer it to the Privileges Committee.
On Tuesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP had accused the Congress and the parties in the INDIA alliance of supporting Chinese media, reported PTI. Goyal’s remarks came a day after the BJP accused the Congress and the digital news platform NewsClick of being part of an anti-India “umbilical cord”.
The party leaders have cited The New York Times report claiming that NewsClick had received funds from a network centred around American millionaire Neville Roy Singham to spread “Chinese propaganda” around the world.
In 2021, the Enforcement Directorate had raided NewsClick in connection with a money-laundering case pertaining to foreign funding. At the time “the Congress and the entire Left-Liberal ecosystem” came to defend the news organisation, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had said on Sunday.
Reiterating the allegations on Tuesday, Goyal said that it is a serious issue that needs be discussed in the House.
“Arrogant coalition parties are helping each other,” Goyal said. “They are funding the propaganda against the country. What relation Rahul Gandhi has with Communist party and China. The country should know whether they are with India or China.”
The comments came even as the Opposition demanded a discussion on Manipur violence. Goyal’s comments also raised an uproar in the House, reported PTI.
“Nothing less than an apology from him [Goyal] on the Floor of the House, when it is in order, will do,” Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.
Later, however, Goyal said in the House that he takes back any words that may not be parliamentary and urged chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar to remove them from the record, reported PTI.
The New York Times report was also cited by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey in Lok Sabha on Monday as he accused the Congress of receiving funds from China to divide India.
“Between 2005 and 2014, whenever there was a crisis, the Congress had received money from China,” he claimed in Lok Sabha. “In 2008, they had invited both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In 2016, they were talking to the Chinese during the Doklam crisis.”
Dubey also claimed that independent journalists Rohini Singh and Swati Chaturvedi had received “Chinese money” to “create an atmosphere against India”. Both the journalists have denied the allegations and their names were expunged from the record of the Lok Sabha proceedings.
On Tuesday, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury met Speaker Om Birla to talk about Dubey’s remarks not being expunged from the records, reported PTI. This came after Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned over the issue in the morning after the Opposition members protested against an expunged portion of Monday’s debate being re-recorded.