Today's Paper

Rahul Bajaj and Brinda Karat clash over conflict of interest

Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI: Communist Party of India (Marxist) member Brinda Karat and Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh on Monday clashed with industrialist Rahul Bajaj over his attempts to field questions pertaining to his industry.

Raising a supplementary during question hour on inflation, Mr. Bajaj, also chairman of Bajaj Auto Limited, sought to know the government’s response to slowing auto sales. This drew protests from the Left and Samajwadi Party members, who said it clearly amounted to conflict of interest.

Mr. Bajaj said his company was not able to sell vehicles despite claims of India not being in recession. Mr. Singh and Ms. Karat sprang to their feet stating members could not raise issues concerning their own companies, forcing Mr. Bajaj to withdraw the remark.

He went on to ask about the auto sector and the slowing down of sales, to which Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the government had cut excise duty by four per cent and asked banks to lend to borrowers wanting to purchase cars and motorcycles. “While the government was doing its part, it was an obligation on the part of the industry to cut prices,” he said.

Ms. Karat said members should not use the floor of the House to ask the government about the concerns of their industry. Karan Singh (Congress) said as part of the established procedure, members could raise issues concerning their industry but only after declaring their personal interest.

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