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AgustaWestland row: Cong slams PM Modi’s remark about Sonia Gandhi

india Updated: May 09, 2016 17:04 IST
AgustaWestland scam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi address during an Assembly elections meeting at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on Sunday . (PTI)

The Rajya Sabha witnessed multiple adjournments on Monday as the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of lying and using the AgustaWestland row as an election issue.

Congress MPs created pandemonium in the Rajya Sabha, forcing two adjournments in the pre-noon session over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation during an election rally that an Italian court had named Sonia Gandhi in the AgustaWestland chopper bribery case.

A little after the house met, Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad quoted a newspaper report from a election rally addressed by Modi in Kerala and said the government was using the deal to malign Congress.

“We discussed AgustaWestland in both houses. In neither houses did any one say that UPA leaders took money. Neither has the (Italian) court said that UPA leaders took money,” Azad said.

“We have said since beginning that the purpose (behind this row) is not to discuss the issue inside the house, it is to use it outside the house and use it in elections to malign the Congress leadership. It is similar to what happened in the 1980s with Bofors,” said Azad.

“The issue is being raised because it is being used against the Congress in the elections,” Azad said.

He read out a newspaper report which said Modi as saying at an election rally that a UPA leader took money to buy the helicopters.

“Why didn’t the prime minister speak in either house? When it was decided that there should be action, why is he making it an election issue?”

Azad also wondered if the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the issue, will be influenced by what the prime minister says.

“The CBI comes under the PM. if he is using this language, the CBI will be affected.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi repeated the government’s stand that guilty in the AgustaWestland case would be punished.

“Those who have given bribe are in jail, those who have taken bribe will be in jail very soon,” Naqvi said.

Congress leader Anand Sharma asked the prime minister to give a clarification in the house.

“The PM must substantiate the statement he has made. He has said that the court has indicted Congress leaders,” he said.

Congress members then trooped near the Chairman’s podium raising slogans against Modi, calling his a liar.

In the ruckus, the house was briefly adjourned.

When the house reassembled, Kurien said the chair cannot take cognizance of what has been said outside the house.

Sharma then said: “The prime minister has contradicted his defence minister. He is pre-empting a decision.”

Congress members again trooped near the chairman’s podium, forcing an adjournment first till 12 noon and then till 2 pm and finally till 11 am on Tuesday.