Congress MPs step up attack on Modi for ‘Italian’ remark

New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) Congress members in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday stepped up their attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments at election rallies linking Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s “Italian connection” to the AgustaWestland chopper scam.

After trying to raise the issue twice in the house since Monday, party MPs sat on a ‘dharna’ near the Speaker’s chair in the post-lunch session to register their protest.

“Since morning we are agitating but the chair has not given us time,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said as he and party colleagues Jyotiraditya Scindia, Ravneet Singh and Ranjeet Ranjan staged the protest.

Congress members insisted on a clarification from the government on a statement by the Prime Minister linking the “Italian connection” in the chopper deal to party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Addressing election rallies on Sunday in southern India, Modi made fun of Gandhi but without taking her name.

“Do you have anyone you know in Italy? Do you have relatives in Italy,” Modi asked the crowd in Kerala and then answered himself: “Everyone knows who has an Italian connection.”

Some Congress members hit out at Modi for his remarks.

M. Veerappa Moily had earlier given notice for breach of privilege against Modi. Citing rules, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said it was for the Speaker to decide whether the privilege motion can be accepted or not.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the motion was under her consideration. But she did not allow members to raise or speak on the issue.

“Congress president’s name was taken publicly. The Prime Minister should not say this outside the house. Whatever he wants to say, he should say in the house,” Kharge said.

Congress members kept shouting slogans like “Pradhan Mantri jawab do” (Prime Minister, Reply to Us).

On Monday too, Congress members had tried to raise the issue and then walked out of the house.

Later during the discussion on drought, while Congress leader Kharge was up on his feet trying to say something on the government reply on the drought situation, Rudy said it was not proper for Congress members to sit in the well while Kharge wanted to make his observation.

The controversy over Modi’s statement on the “Italian connection” also figured prominently in the Rajya Sabha in the last two days.

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