In one of her sharpest attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said on Monday the champion of 'mann ki baat' seemed to retreat into 'maun vrat' whenever there was a scandal involving his colleagues.
Gandhi also made it clear the Congress would not allow Parliament to function until her party's demand for the resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping ex-IPL boss Lalit Modi to get British travel documents is not conceded. The Congress is also gunning for Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over a multi-crore recruitment and admission racket, better known as the Vyapam scam.
"There is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in the public domain for the Prime Minister to require the resignations of the external affairs minister and the two chief ministers," she told the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP).
"Our stand is straightforward and clear from day one. There can be no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for gross wrong-doings remain in office."
Gandhi said the prime minister never missed an opportunity to claim the moral high ground on transparency, integrity and accountability but was conspicuous by his deafening silence on transgressions by his colleagues. "He has been very free with his promises but seems totally incapable of delivering on them."
She also said the BJP was the author of the "resign-now-debate-later" principle of parliamentary practice that it had used on at least five occasions during UPA rule.
"Today, we have to listen to sermons on parliamentary behaviour from those who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when we they were in the opposition," she told her party MPs.
"Yesterday's agitators in both the Houses have suddenly become today's champions of debate and discussion. Memories are short and therefore we need to remind our political adversaries who conveniently are suffering from selective amnesia."
The standoff is a throwback to days when the BJP was in the opposition and the Congress was forced to sack two UPA government ministers - Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ashwani Kumar -- and a CM - Ashok Chavan in Maharashtra -- over allegations of corruption after the saffron party stalled Parliament.
"Let me say that we are not being aggressive just to match the BJP's aggression of the past. We have been forced to take our position because of the government's completely brazen attitude. Of course, we want both the Houses to function. Of course, we want legislation to be debated and adopted," Gandhi said.
The Congress president stepped up her attack on Modi for re-naming of UPA programmes and cutting budgetary allocation of various social sector schemes. "Of course, the Prime Minister has turned out to be a master re-packager, a skilful salesman, a sharp headline grabber and a clever news manager. We cannot deny the Prime Minister this prerogative."
Condemning the Gurdaspur terror attack, she said regardless of political differences the nation stands united in its fight against terror.
However, Gandhi referred to 26/11 Mumbai attacks and Modi's statement to counter the charge that the Congress leadership lacked statesmanship as it stalled a debate on Gurdaspur tragedy. "What happened on November 28th, 2008 when anti-terror operations were underway in Mumbai? All of a sudden the-then chief minister of Gujarat appears in the city and instead of supporting the Prime Minister indulges in grandstanding and criticises him. Was this statesmanship?"