Narendra Modi government’s move to hold discussions on Lalit Modi issue in Lok Sabha ran into another logjam with Congress party pitching a strong protest over the issue. Unrelenting from its stand of resignation from Union External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj before any discussion, the principal opposition party began the day by moving an adjournment motion against her.
Even before the proceedings in the lower house had began, Congress party made its intentions clear asserting that they will not just settle for a discussion on the controversy as the said rule invoked for the discussion doesn’t entail voting.
“We will press for adjournment motion against Swaraj. We are neither in favour of the subject nor the rule under which it is being planned,” Congress leader K C Venugopal said before the house resumed.
Late on Monday night the Central government had listed discussion on Lalit Modi controversy under the Rule 193, an attempt to break the current impasse with opposition firm on its demand of Ms Swaraj’s ouster.
Rule 193 permits only discussion on the floor of Lok Sabha but not the voting after discussion by the members. At the most, the minister concern, here Union External minister, may give a brief reply.
But the house witnessed another intensified protest by the principal opposition party with Congress party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge moving an adjournment motion early in the day. And as the day went by, the protest only intensified with Congress members taking to the Well of the house holding placards and raising slogans against the incumbent BJP-led NDA government.
Such was an intensity of opposition protest on Tuesday that at one stage Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to “ask” the protesting members to maintain order. But that too failed to bring an order in the house.
The disruptions further intensified even as the presiding officer tried to go ahead with the business ignoring the protest. With Congress members firm on their demands, Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti along with BJP MPs Jagdambika Pal, Kirron Kher and others too came to the Well to protest against the Congress members.
The House was finally adjourned for the day after two short adjournments as there was no let up in the protest despite Speaker Sumitra Mahajan strongly expressing her anguish over the developments.
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.
(With inputs from the PTI)