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Another first, Sonia rushes into well

Posted in S. Asia

Published on August 14, 2015 with No Comments

Kya… kya kaha… what did he say about me?“ This is how Sonia Gandhi reacted to a caustic accusation about a family member hurled by BJP MPs. Sonia took serious objection to the personal insinuation and walked into the well, standing right in front of the Speaker’s chair and protesting vigorously. In tow were Congress MPs appearing equally offended. As the confrontation flared, the Speaker adjourned the House.

The Lok Sabha finally debated the Lalit Modi saga . The issue, along with the Vyapam scam, has stalled business from day one of the session.

As the House took up the discussion, senior Ministers attacked the Gandhi family while defending BJP leaders. The day’s proceedings saw disruptions, tempers running high and displays of acrimony between senior leaders of the Congress and the BJP. The Speaker accepted Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s adjournment motion, paving the way for a discussion on the alleged help External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj extended to the former IPL commissioner.

The House was adjourned for an hour after Congress president Sonia Gandhi rushed to the well protesting against a remark against her by a BJP MP. The unfamiliar sight caused uproar and the House was adjourned for nearly an hour during which the remark was expunged.

Sushma Swaraj, stung by allegations made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi both inside and outside Parliament that her family received money from Lalit Modi, hit out at the Gandhi family. “Rahulji, you are very fond of a long vacation. Take another vacation and read the history of your family. When you come back, you must ask your mother: ‘Mama, how much money did we take from Quattrocchi?’ You must ask her: ‘Why did Papa help [former Union Carbide Chairman Warren] Anderson flee’,” Sushma Swaraj said amid slogan-shouting by Congress members in the well.

She alleged that Rajiv Gandhi, as Prime Minister, had arranged for Anderson’s exit from Bhopal and then New Delhi while he was on bail as a trade-off for a presidential pardon for his friend Adil Shahryar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was not present in the House despite repeated demands from the Congress that he respond to the charges on behalf of the government, later tweeted Ms. Swaraj’s speech. “A must watch speech by Sushma Swaraj ji…” the Prime Minister tweeted providing a YouTube link.

PM scared of fighting corruption, says Rahul

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi not present in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Lalit Modi saga on Wednesday, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused him of avoiding debate and being “scared of fighting corruption”.

Inside the Lok Sabha, Mr. Gandhi repeated his charges of a quid pro quo between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the former IPL Commissioner. After his speech, the Congress staged a walkout.

On the allegation that she had taken money from the former IPL commissioner, Ms. Swaraj admitted that her daughter was a lawyer in his passport case, but “as a junior lawyer at number nine”.

She said her daughter was not “paid a single rupee” for the case. Defending herself for helping Mr. Lalit Modi get British travel documents, she said he was not a fugitive. She did not, however, reply to Congress leader Mr. Kharge’s question on why she had kept her own Ministry and the Finance Ministry uninformed while extending help to the former IPL commissioner “on humanitarian grounds”.

The Congress had asked why Indian travel documents were not provided to him so his return could be facilitated.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended her saying the former IPL commissioner did not have a non-bailable warrant against him until last week. The two Ministers told the House that it was actually the UPA government that had gone slow on trying to get him back to India. Mr. Jaitley criticised the previous government for not trying to get him extradited and insisting on deportation when British law did not allow it. “You follow the wrong route so you are never able to get the man back,” he said.

 

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