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Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, slammed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his recent remark on democracy in London. He said the democratic backbone or structure of India remains intact and will stand the test of time regardless of ‘illogical opinion’ passed freely both within the country and on foreign soil.

Borrowing the saying that "Facts are sacred and opinion is free", the Union minister added, "The democratic structure of our great country will always remain what it is. No matter how unsubstantiated and illogical some of the opinions given both within the country and abroad are, our democracy will stand the test of time."

On aspersions cast on India's democracy and media freedom by Gandhi during his recent visit to the UK, Thakur said, "These days, the word 'democracy' is being thrown around a lot in public discourse. A time-honoured tradition in India and elsewhere in the free world has been reduced to a fashion statement by those who have constantly tried to weaken our democracy and institutions. Violators are now pretending to be the victims."

"We must remember that, unlike Western countries, democracy is not an artificial implant in India. It is an integral and indestructible part of our civilisational history," he said.

While pointing out that the advent of newer technologies presents a unique opportunity to break barriers, the minister said, "There lurks the danger of 'Digital Colonialism' on platforms run by algorithms coded offshore behind the walls of transparency."

"We must remain cautious not to accept anything and everything in the name of innovation and modernity", he said, adding, "Foreign publications, companies and organisations with inherent anti-India bias, and peddling distorted facts, must be identified and called out."

"it is here that the Indian media, which understands the ground reality, will have to play a crucial role," Thakur said.

During his Chatham House interaction in London, Rahul Gandhi was asked if he would like to make any changes to India's foreign policy, with Jawahar Lal Nehru's Non-Aligned Movement being cited as an example for the question.

"The principle of foreign policy is unfortunately self-interest and any Indian government would pay attention to that. In answering the question, the first step is what is important to us as a country and what we are trying to do. We are a rural country and making a transition into an urban country. This transition has a huge amount of energy, potential for violence, potential for transformation...if you look at UPA policies, they were all about trying to manage this transition from rural to an urban-connected country. Our foreign policy would follow that," Gandhi said.

Rahul Gandhi, during his interactions in London, claimed that the foundations of Indian democracy are being targeted and that the nation's institutions are under a "complete attack."

Earlier, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had also demanded the constitution of a special parliamentary committee to inquire into Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's "contemptuous" remarks and consider if he should be expelled from the House to give a clear message so that "no one takes the pride and respect of high institutions for a ride".

The Union minister was addressing a gathering at the Valedictory ceremony of the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi's centenary celebrations in the presence of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other dignitaries.

Urging the media to remain cautious, the Union minister said they must desist from giving its space intentionally or unintentionally to such voices and narratives that have the potential to threaten the integrity of India.

Referring to the recent attack and ransacking of the offices and studios of a prominent news organisation in Kerala, Thakur said, "Such outrageous assaults weaken democracy and its institutions". 

(With inputs from ANI)

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