Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the opposition is not interested in discussions on key issues, after the Congress sparked an uproar in the Rajya Sabha over the Lalit Modi controversy on the first day of Parliament's monsoon session on Tuesday.
"All that the opposition wants is to not let the session run. They say they want to discuss, but do not take part in the discussion," Jaitley said after the Congress alleged that the BJP-led government has failed to deliver on its promise of ensuring transparency in its functioning.
The opposition, mainly the Congress, has been pushing for the resignation or sacking of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s since a controversy erupted over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi to get British travel papers after his passport was revoked.
The monsoon session is headed for turbulence and a cloud hangs over key bills because of the Congress' demand for the resignation of BJP leaders and ministers, which has been junked by the ruling dispensation.
"Government is answerable to the house," Congress leader Anand Sharma said even as his party demanded a discussion in the Upper House.
"There are 14 FIRs (filed) by the Enforcement Directorate against him (Lalit Modi). Governments change, laws don't change," he said.
Sharma alleged that the travel documents given to Modi by the British authorities for attending to his ailing wife in Portugal were being used by him for "tourism".
Responding to Sharma, Jaitley asked the opposition to initiate a debate: "Start the discussion, Sushma Swaraj will reply."
Later, Jaitley said: "Some opposition leaders said that they want a discussion on the role of the external affairs minister.
"I also said Sushmaji will be present during the discussions. We proposed that she will join the discussion and put across her stand, but it is clear that the opposition doesn't want a discussion."
On Twitter, Swaraj said she was ready for a debate. "I asked Shri Arun Jaitley to convey this to Rajya Sabha," she posted.
Shri Arun Jaitley has conveyed this to the House. We are looking forward to the Opposition's response.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) July 21, 2015
Before the commencement of the session, Swaraj met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the well of Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also joined them and exchanged pleasantries.
The government hopes the monsoon session will see some “good decisions” being made by lawmakers, Modi said.