During an interview, Sam Pitroda defended Rahul Gandhi and said there is nothing wrong in badmouthing India on foreign land (Image: ET/Print)

On March 15, Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda defended Rahul Gandhi’s ranting against India on foreign soil during an interview with journalist Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today. Earlier, in a series of tweets, Pitroda had claimed that Gandhi has been misunderstood and he was not badmouthing India.

During the interview, when Sardesai confronted him about how Rahul Gandhi badmouthed India on foreign soil, Pitroda said, “What’s the problem, though? I mean, what is this idea that you can’t say anything against your country or your foreign soil? Who came up with this concept? The world is everybody’s. So this whole idea that you can’t go to a foreign country and say something you can say whatever you want to say, what’s the problem? I just don’t get it. Where is the problem.”

At the beginning of the interview, Sardesai asked him about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demand that Gandhi apologise. Pitroda defended Gandhi, saying he did not say anything wrong and said what he strongly felt about. He further claimed that Gandhi is “misunderstood all the time”. He said, “Rahul Gandhi did not say anything that requires any kind of apology in a democracy like ours. If someone feels very strongly about something, he has all the right to say it. The fact is that what he said has been listed as lies being propagated, misinformation is in main demand, and this has become a way of life in India. Unfortunately, it happens most of the time with Rahul Gandhi.”

Pitroda bluntly denied Gandhi sought western countries’ intervention in India’s matters. Pitroda said, “This is our challenge, and we will deal with it”, is what Gandhi had said. When Sardesai asked about his comment that countries like the US and the UK are not doing anything about the situation of democracy in India, Pitroda claimed that India’s democracy is not just a matter of India but of the whole world. “It is not about Hindustan but Manavta”, he added.

‘It is okay to comment Sikhs have become second-class citizens’

On Gandhi’s comments that Sikhs have become second-class citizens in India, Pitroda said, “What is the problem? If one feels that way, it’s perfectly normal. You could disagree with him, that’s okay.”

Rahul Gandhi is also a human being. Give him space – Pitroda demanded

Irked by the media constantly discussing Rahul Gandhi’s statements abroad, Pitroda remarked, “poor guy can’t even scratch. If you scratch, you will ask why did you scratch in foreign countries. I mean, let’s be reasonable. Let’s be civilised. Let’s give him some space. Poor fellow has no space. Why is everyone so obsessed with what he says? How did he say? Every word of it, every sentence of it, every tone of it. He is also a human being. He should have the same freedom you and I have. Of course, he is a leader of a party, one of the key leaders in the country. We all respect that. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings.”

Rahul Gandhi can criticise the PM, but when the PM criticises him, Pitroda finds it concerning.”

Interestingly, when asked about the constant attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Rahul Gandhi, Pitroda claimed that being the PM of the country, he should have broad shoulders to accept all the “criticism”. However, he found it concerning when PM Modi hits back at Rahul Gandhi for the statements he makes.

Pitroda said, “Prime minister is a prime minister of a country. Every citizen has a right to criticise the prime minister nothing wrong with it because he is, at the end of the day, the prime minister of everybody and not a group of people. He needs to represent the entire country, and if somebody criticises him prime minister should be big enough to take criticism. I worry when the prime minister talks on public media the way he talks sometimes. To me, that’s not a dignified way for a prime minister to attack somebody. Others can attack the prime minister. Remember that. But the prime minister of my country is a prime minister of everybody, and it’s okay for me to criticise him. He has to have broad shoulders to take a lot of criticism and not go into ‘Tu-Tu Main-Main’. When the prime minister does that, it bothers me.”

Sam Pitroda had earlier claimed Rahul Gandhi did not say anything wrong

Earlier, in a series of Tweets, Pitroda claimed that Rahul Gandhi did not say anything wrong in his addresses in the UK. He justified it by “decoding” what Gandhi had said. He asked those commenting on what Gandhi said whether they saw the complete video before saying anything or if they understood the context in which he said what he said.

Quoting Gandhi, he said, “For clarification, please, note that Rahul Gandhi basically said the following: 1. Indian democracy is global public good. 2. The state of democracy in India is of concern. 3. It is an Indian problem, and we will deal with it.”

He further claimed Gandhi never asked for foreign intervention and expressed concerns over the attack he was facing in the media. He claimed people ganged up to attack Rahul Gandhi, and instead of talking about him, they should talk about the “problems India is facing”.

BJP reacted to Pitroda

BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla hit back at Sam Pitroda and called his interview with Sardesai another “Hua To Hua” movement. He said, “Another “Hua to Hua” moment! Rahul Gandhi’s UNCLE SAM PITRODA justifies Bharat Bashing & intervention on foreign soil. Says nothing wrong with speaking against India & demanding foreign intervention in India on foreign soil. By the way: Rahul has been a serial offender – he demanded intervention from US earlier too with Nicholas Burns & Mani Aiyyar demanded Pakistani intervention.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently gave a befitting reply to Gandhi. He said that no force in the world can harm the democratic traditions of India. PM Modi said, “India is not only the largest democracy, but it is the mother of democracy. It is unfortunate that questions are being raised in London on India’s democracy.” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister Piyush Goyal, among others, have expressed their dismay at what Gandhi has said about India on foreign land. Rajnath Singh and Piyush Goyal were among the leaders who recently criticised Gandhi in the Parliament for his remarks about India in the UK.