Angry Cong stalls Parliament over govt’s ‘vendetta politics’
Apparently angered at the developments in the National Herald case, the Congress today went on a warpath with party members stalling proceedings in Parliament alleging “vendetta politics”. The government rejected the charge saying it was ready for a debate on all issues being raised by the Congress.
As the proceedings began, Congress MPs trooped into the wells of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, raising slogan: “Tanashahi nahin chalegi (Dictatorship would not do)”. They continued to protest through the day, forcing Parliament to adjourn without transacting any substantial business.
The Congress members made no direct reference to the case in Parliament even as the chairs sought to know the issue on which the Opposition members were agitating. While the Lok Sabha was set to discuss drought situation in the country, the Rajya Sabha was scheduled to take up the plight of plantation workers and continue consideration on the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill.
As the Speaker adjourned the House, she noted: “I have no idea why you are agitated. There was no notice for any discussion from your side. This is not the way. You are holding the House to ransom.”
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Pratap Rudy sought to know from the Congress why it was protesting. Rudy was also seen going across Opposition benches to garner support against the Congress. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told mediapersons the party was protesting government's vendetta politics and not against court orders.
Sonia Gandhi, talking to reporters, invoked Indira Gandhi’s legacy asserting she was her daughter-in-law and “not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed”.
Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was in Chennai to visit the flood-hit areas, said: “This is the way the Central Government functions. I absolutely see a political vendetta.”
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley rejected Congress charge of political vendetta and said the Modi government had nothing to do with it.
Speaking amid sloganeering by the Congress members after Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of “political vendetta” by the Modi government against various parties, including the Congress, Jaitely said Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should face the courts as India was not a banana republic in which Parliament or media could decide the guilt or innocence in such matters.
“No political vendetta. A private complaint was lodged. The government had nothing to do with it. It is a matter of corruption where the High Court has dismissed their case and asked them to go and face trial. Nobody in this country has immunity from law. They can challenge the orders in a higher court or face proceedings,” he said while adding the government was ready for a debate on all issues being raised by the Congress and that the debate should begin immediately.
As the Congress members continued the ruckus, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who was in the Chair adjourned the House for the day.
Having sided with the Congress in the House, Trinamool Congress leader Sudeep Bandhopadhyay said outside Parliament: “We are not commenting on the National Herald case but vendetta is wrong.”
Later in the evening, TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it was sad that Sonia Gandhi had been asked to personally appear in court.
While the BJP strategy is to project the Congress as being insensitive and sacrificing interests of the people for the sake of its leaders, the Congress hopes to rekindle the sympathy portraying itself as a victim of government's vengeful approach.
The development signalled the return of confrontational politics in Parliament putting into jeopardy overtures by the BJP-led government that led to some forward movement on the Goods and Service Tax Bill.