Finally accepting the Opposition’s challenge, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said today that she is ready “right now…this very minute” for a debate on the controversy that has led to a paralysis of parliament, with the Congress demanding her removal for helping tainted cricket tycoon Lalit Modi.
“Call it Lalitgate, Modigate, whatever, the discussion must happen,” the Foreign Minister said, after the Congress raised the topic. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan objected to the “Modigate” moniker as the Congress asked for scheduled business to be set aside to discuss the scandal.
“The Prime Minister must be present when the minister makes her statement,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, who leads the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
This session of Parliament ends tomorrow marred completely by unrelenting disruptions by the Congress, a strategy endorsed by its top two leaders, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Key legislation – including the landmark GST tax reform – has been stalled because of the Congress’ protests.
Frustrated, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan last week suspended 25 of the Congress’ meagre pool of 44 members of the Lok Sabha. “I will not allow 40 members to stomp over the wishes of 400 others,” she said yesterday, referring to the Congress’ refusal to let Parliament get to work.
The government has said that if a debate begins, the PM will make a statement on the scandals that have engulfed Swaraj and two other top BJP leaders, Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Swaraj told the Lok Sabha last week that when she told the UK government last year that she did not have any objections to Lalit Modi being allowed to accompany his sick wife to Portugal, she was seeking to assist “on humanitarian grounds” a cancer patient who has broken no laws.
That explanation does not count, the Congress has said, because many Opposition law-makers were missing when the minister made her statement.