Rahul Gandhi addresses Indian diaspora at Hounslow in London

Stepping up his attack on the Narendra Modi-led government, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the Opposition is not allowed to raise the issue of Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in the Indian Parliament. The Congress MP was addressing the Indian diaspora at Hounslow in London to an audience of close to 1,500 people.

"The government doesn't allow the concept of opposition in the country. The same thing happens in Parliament, the fact that Chinese sitting inside our territory when we raise these questions we are not allowed to raise them in the house ... in fact, it's a shame," Rahul Gandhi said.

"Our country is an open country, a country where we take pride in our intelligence and respect each other. This has been destroyed. You can see the narrative in the media. So we decided to do Bharat Jodo Yatra," he said at the event.

The Wayanad MP hit out at the BJP government for allegedly not allowing any idea of opposition to be discussed in the House.

"Govt does not allow any idea of opposition to be discussed. It is not an India all of us are used to," he said.

Earlier today, he also paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and Guru Basavanna in London.

Launching a fresh attack on the BJP, the Congress MP said, "at the heart of their ideology is cowardice”, waging a scathing attack on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remarks on China and the government not standing up to “stronger” China.

Rahul Gandhi also brought in VD Savarkar in the narrative of cowardice. Referring to an anecdote of one of the chapters of Savarkar’s book where joy is allegedly expressed at four-five people beating up one Muslim, Rahul said,"If a person feels happy by beating 4-5 people, that is cowardice.”

Rahul said, "If you have noticed a statement by the foreign minister, he said China is much more powerful than us. China is stronger than us, so we can’t fight with them. So the British were stronger than us, so we shouldn’t have gone and fought with them? How would we ever get independence if we had followed the BJP’s and RSS principles?"

It is engrained in the principle of BJP, he said, “to not fight someone stronger than us.”

Continuing his tirade against the ruling dispensation, Rahul Gandhi said the biggest issues are unemployment, price rises and violence against Indian women. The fact they [women] are worried about walking in the streets of the country, he added.

"Strange that an Indian political leader can give a talk in Cambridge, Harvard but not in an Indian university," he said.

He also took a veiled jibe at business tycoon Gautam Adani, stocks of whose companies tanked after the release of the Hindenburg report.

"One or two business people control pretty much every business. He has become famous lately. You can see reports on his wealth. It's at the expense of the Indian people. One person is making all the money because of his political connections," the Congress leader said.

He also slammed the Indian media and said, "What people of India are saying is not even shown in the media. The press only shows anger, hatred, violence, Bollywood or cricket, but not the real issues."

Speaking about Indian democracy, he said, "So the surprising thing is, so-called defenders of democracy, which are the United States and European countries, seem to be oblivious that huge chunks of the democratic model have come undone, which is a real problem. The opposition is fighting that battle. The battle is for huge democratic people. The opposition has placed the vision on the table, which is an inclusive one. The vision aims to bring people together."

Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under “brutal attack” and there is a full-scale assault on the institutions of the country. Gandhi's comments at Cambridge University that Indian democracy is under attack have become the latest flashpoint between the Congress and the BJP.

Fight Between Courage And Cowardice

On being attacked for his remarks, Rahul Gandhi said, "The more they attack me, the better it is for me, more I understand and the more I learn.”

He further added, “ It’s a fight between courage and cowardice. It’s a fight between respect and dis-respect. It’s a fight between love and hatred.”

The Congress leader also hit back at the government’s criticism that he had maligned the country on foreign soil during his lecture. He said: “I have never defamed my country, I’m not interested in it, I will never do it. The BJP like to twist what I sayĆ¢€¦ the fact of the matter is the person who defames India when he goes abroad is the Prime Minister of India..saying there was a lost decade, and nothing happened in the last 10 years – so what about all those people who worked in India, who built India in those 10 years? Is he not insulting them? And, he’s doing it on foreign soil.” (sic)

In the end, he thanked the diaspora for, “ making our country proud and being a shining example of being living and respectful to everyone around you.”

Rahul Gandhi is on a week-long tour of the UK and is scheduled to hold some closed-door sessions on Big Data and Democracy and India-China relations at Cambridge University.

Gandhi is set to conclude his UK tour this week with an event in the House of Commons complex hosted by UK Opposition Labour Party veteran Indian-origin MP Virendra Sharma and will also address the Chatham House think tank in London on geopolitical issues. He flies off on March 7th.