‘Just like we discuss Palestine’: Shashi Tharoor on farm stir debate in UK parliament

The Indian mission in London called the debate a “distinctly one-sided discussion”.

Days after a row over a debate on the protest by Indian farmers in the UK parliament, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said it is normal for any democracy with elected representatives to hold a discussion on a domestic issue of another country, reported news agency ANI.

“Just we in India, can discuss, say the Palestine issue, as we have done or can discuss if we so choose any other domestic issue of a foreign country, the British parliament has the same right,” the Congress MP told ANI. He, however, did not condemn the government’s stand against the discussion. “I don’t blame the government of India for doing its job, for speaking up for its point of view. But we must recognise there is another point of view and that in democracies, elected representatives are free to air their point of view on this,” Tharoor added.

The Congress MP was referring to a debate on Monday in the British parliament, which was a response to a public petition signed by more than 115,000 people. During the discussion, Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democratic, and Scottish National Party lawmakers called on the Boris Johnson government to raise their concerns about the handling of the protest and media freedoms in India.

On Tuesday, British envoy Alex Ellis was summoned by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and served a demarche or formal diplomatic representation that conveyed India’s “strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament”, a statement from the external affairs ministry said.

The foreign secretary said the debate “represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country”, and he advised British MPs to refrain from “practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy”.

The Indian mission in London called the debate a “distinctly one-sided discussion”. “We deeply regret that rather than a balanced debate, false assertions – without substantiation or facts – were made, casting aspersions on the largest functioning democracy in the world and its institutions,” the mission said in a statement.

According to Tharoor, it wasn’t something “so surprising”. “We should take it as a normal give and take that happen between democracies,” he told ANI.

Source: Hindustan Times


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