Members of Parliament do not require political clearance from the Prime Minister, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said on Wednesday.
The issue rose in the backdrop of a controversy over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's comments in meetings in London where he made critical remarks about the general political and social conditions in India. Government sources had alleged that he did not seek "political clearance" before leaving for London.
"MPs don't need political clearance from Prime Minister or government unless they are part of Official Delegation. Please don't blindly follow the PMO WhatsApp suggestions sent to TV channels," Mr. Surjewala said in response to reports which alleged that Mr. Gandhi did not take political clearance for his trip to London. Official sources, however, said that MPs have in the past taken political clearance from the government if they intended to receive "foreign hospitality".
Meeting with Corbyn
Countering reports that Mr. Gandhi didn't take political clearance from the Government of India for his London trip, party sources told The Hindu that he didn't need any such clearance. His remarks acquired greater political resonance after he met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"He is neither a minister nor the Leader of the Opposition that he would have required a political clearance for his trip," a senior Congress leader said.
The Congress source insisted that only someone holding an official position would require a clearance from the Centre if such a trip entailed pre-scheduled political/official meetings.
"This is clearly an afterthought after their attempt to make his [Rahul Gandhi] meeting Jeremy Corbyn [Labour Party leader] a political issue failed," he stated.
Congress, BJP clash
On Tuesday, the BJP and the Congress sparred over Mr. Gandhi's meeting with Mr. Corbyn as the Labour Party leader is known to have strong views on Jammu and Kashmir that is contrary to India's official position.
While BJP leaders targeted Mr. Gandhi for meeting an "anti-India" political figure on foreign soil, the Congress hit back by releasing pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Mr. Corbyn during his visit to England.