Logjam cripples parliament business for third day

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The logjam between the opposition and the Modi government over the resignations of a union minister and two chief ministers crippled functioning of parliament for the third straight day on Thursday.

The government upped its ante by firing yet another salvo at the Congress, accusing Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh of receiving bribe in the garb of unsecured loan.

The ruling BJP also moved a privilege motion in the Lok Sabha against Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, over his comments in a Facebook post.

The Lok Sabha virtually turned into an arena for placard battles between the Congress and the BJP. Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha, which was disrupted repeatedly as the opposition continued to press for the resignations of the ministers concerned.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told media persons outside parliament that Virbhadra Singh received crores of rupees as unsecured loan.

“Venture Energy Technology Private Limited, whose project was revived by Virbhadra Singh … and after a while, the owner of the company gave Rs.1.5 crore as unsecured loan to the chief minister’s wife and Rs.2.4 crore to the chief minister,” he said.

Taking a dig, Prasad said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi “who has been speaking so much these days” should comment on this as well.

“It was nothing but bribery in the name of unsecured loan as the chief minister helped the company,” Prasad alleged.

The Congress hit back, accusing the BJP of taking “revenge instead of action”.

“Instead of taking resignations of their leaders, they (BJP) are raising non-issues and small issues to divert (public) attention,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.

As soon as the Lok Sabha met on Thursday morning, members from the Congress and other parties were up on their feet, demanding action from the government on their demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

Several Congress members moved near the Speaker’s podium, carrying placards targeted at Swaraj and raising questions over the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In the ruckus, BJP’s Prahlad Joshi spoke on his privilege motion against Vadra though his voice was mostly inaudible. Later, Joshi told IANS he had moved the privilege motion against Vadra.

Vadra, whose land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan are being probed, had talked about “diversion politics” and “so called leaders” in his Facebook post on July 21, the first day of the monsoon session.

In the upper house, the government, which is in a minority, was equally aggressive, and insisted on a debate on the allegations against Swaraj’s links with former Indian Premier League chief Lalit Modi.

The opposition wanted Sushma Swaraj to resign first. Leader of the House, Arun Jaitley, pointed out that the notice given by Congress leader Anand Sharma did not mention the demand for resignation.

As soon the house assembled for the day, members from the Congress and other opposition parties were on their feet. They refused to listen to the government’s repeated appeals for a debate.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi exchanged pleasantries with his predecessor Manmohan Singh as well as other opposition leaders shortly after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned post-noon.

 

 

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