With the government digging in its heels over the demands for resignations of senior BJP leaders involved in alleged scams, the Congress hardened its stance on the eve of the monsoon session of Parliament.
The onus for Parliament not functioning smoothly would be on the government for its refusal to act against those accused in various scams, it said.
While the Opposition parties appeared united on seeking answers from the ruling party on the Vyapam and Lalit Modi scandals, the Congress’s stance that Parliament would not be allowed to function until the demand for resignations was met, appeared too harsh to other parties with the exception of the Left. Sources told The Hindu that Anand Sharma, deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has given a notice for suspension of business seeking a discussion on facilitation of British travel documents for “an Indian citizen wanted by law.” Mr. Sharma’s notice refers to the alleged help extended to former IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. A Congress leader said that the party had fired its first salvo with the notice.
At the all-party meetings convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, the Congress stuck to its stance. At the meeting convened by Mr. Naidu, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad insisted that resignations are necessary for the smooth functioning of Parliament. After the meeting Mr. Naidu told reporters there will be no resignations and that it will not give in to any ultimatum, leading Mr. Azad to later dub the government as “thick skinned.”
The Congress is seeking resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh.
The Left parties held a protest in New Delhi against the government over various scams. Speaking on the sidelines of the protest at Jantar Mantar, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said “It is they [BJP] who had disrupted an entire session in 2G spectrum matter [involving then Telecom Minister A. Raja] during UPA’s tenure after the Manmohan Singh government initially refused a probe.” Then a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was formed, and Mr. Raja had to resign.
“Why are you not applying the same yard stick to your ministers now? If they don’t apply and Parliament is disrupted then it is they who will be blamed for it,” Mr. Yechury said, adding that the Prime Minister should ensure those being probed are removed from their posts.
Emerging from Mr. Naidu’s meeting, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said, “the issues confronting the country should be discussed in detail.” He, however, said that his party favoured that Parliament function smoothly.
A senior Congress leader, spelling out the party’s strategy said: “We will play the role of a constructive opposition.” He, however, added that the Congress expects the Prime Minister to fix responsibility before it allows Parliament to function. “Traffic has to run from both sides,” he said.