The confrontation between the ruling party and the principal Opposition party escalated on the second day of the monsoon session of Parliament with the Lok Sabha unable to function beyond a few minutes and the two sides accusing each other of acting against the interests of the nation.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the target of the Opposition’s ire over the help she extended to former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi, tweeted a counter charge against the Congress barely a few hours before the House was to meet on Wednesday.
“A senior Congress leader was pressing me hard to give diplomatic passport to the Coal Scam accused Santosh Bagrodia,” she wrote on the micro-blogging site. She added that the name would be revealed inside the House. The immediate fallout of the tweet was that the Congress decided to put off its plans to hold a silent sit-in in the Parliament complex to press its demand for action in the Lalit Modi and Vyapam scams. The party later played it down. “No sit-in protest was planned,” a Congress leader said. The BJP meanwhile released booklets listing alleged corruption scandals in Congress-ruled States.
By the time the House convened at 11 a.m., Congress MPs were sporting black bands on theirs arms. Some of them were carrying placards inside the Lok Sabha that read “Modi break your silence, sack Sushma.” The House was adjourned with attempts to run it amid din not lasting beyond a few minutes each time.
Outside, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Opposition was not interested in the discussion it had asked for. “We agreed to a discussion immediately. They have changed their stance and now want an investigation,” he said. “An investigation is done when a provision of law is violated. When we asked the Opposition which provision of law has been violated, they were silent,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley sought to link the Goods and Services Tax to the growth story and dub the Congress the only impediment. GST, he said, would enhance the country’s GDP by 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent. “If the Congress opposes GST, the country will oppose it,” he said.
Countering Mr. Jaitley’s charge, Congress leader Anand Sharma said that the notice he had served in the Rajya Sabha was not for discussion but for the Prime Minister to fix responsibility. On GST, Mr. Sharma said the BJP and Narendra Modi had originally opposed the idea for years and should be held responsible for keeping the single tax regime out.