Congress MPs return to Lok Sabha; Fresh protest resumes

Rajat Kain

Lok-Sabha-protest

File photo of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and leader of the party in Lok Sabha Malikarjun Kharge (L) during proceedings in the lower house.

The impasse in Lok Sabha continued even as 25 Congress MPs who were suspended a week ago by the Speaker returned, bringing in the protest on the floor of Lok Sabha against the BJP-led NDA government. Moving the adjournment motion, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge took on Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj over her statement in the house on the Lalit Modi controversy.

“The minister spoke before the house, She tried to wash her hands off the incident, this is not right. The issue is not going to get over like this,” added the senior Congress leader.

The Union minister last week had made a statement defending herself over the raging controversy even as the members of Congress and other opposition parties were absent boycotting the proceedings in protest. The principal opposition party has been demanding the resignation of Ms Swaraj over the issue of helping out controversial Lalit Modi last year with the travel papers in UK at the time his passport was revoked by the Indian authorities.

“The minister helped out an economic offender in every way possible. There was no humanitarian angle but some commercial reasons,” Mr. Kharge stated questioning Ms Swaraj’s statement.

But Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the motion moved in by the Congress party, which resulted in a fresh round of protest.

“Please take your seat Kharge ji, I am not allowing your adjournment notice,” told Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejecting the motion of adjournment and giving a go-ahead to the normal business in the house.

The protest by the Congress party against the incumbent Modi government had begun soon after the house had resumed at 11:00 AM on Monday. And after Speaker’s ruling it only intensified further. Congress party members once again carried placards and raised slogans pitching their demands before the Speaker.

“Please follow the rules, do not bring placards to the Well. I will allow you to have a discussion,” Speaker told the Congress MPs.

Cong-protest-Parl-Aug-5-b

Top leaders of Congress party and other opposition party during their protest at Gandhi statue in Parliament last week. Photo – PTI

The lower house was adjourned soon after Congress party rejected SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s suggestion that a meeting be convened by Speaker to work out some truce.

Earlier last week, the Congress party boycotted Lok Sabha after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had suspended 25 Congress MPs for five days, ruling the members were “persistently, willfully obstructing the House”. The action of the Speaker drew strong response with Congress president Sonia Gandhi calling it “Black Day for the democracy”. Eight other political parties, including the Left front, sided with the Congress party in its boycott and subsequent protest at Gandhi statue in Parliament complex.

At the heart of the matter are two major issues – controversy to help out former IPL chief Lalit Modi and a massive recruitment and admission ‘Vyapam’ scam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.

The opposition has been demanding the resignation of Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje in Lalit Modi issue and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the latter.