No let-up likely in protests, BJP says Cong has 'no real issues'

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 23, 2015 11:29 IST

The opposition led by the Congress on Thursday looked set to carry on its fight against the government in Parliament for the third day in a row, despite appeals by the BJP to let key legislations pass.

"The people of the country are happy, development is happening. The Congress has no real issues in hand. It should rethink its stand" parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu told ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting his party's senior ministers in the morning to discuss strategy, reports said.

Senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad are also holding discussions with their party MPs. Party vice president Rahul Gandhi would be away in Tamil Nadu to address a party function on the birth anniversary of former chief minister K Kamaraj.

With the logjam in both houses of Parliament – over a controversy involving former IPL chief Lalit Modi and the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh –expected to continue, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to turn the heat on Congress chief ministers in Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Kerala.

The opposition is gunning for the resignation of three BJP leaders -- external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chouhan.

While Swaraj and Raje are under fire for helping tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who faces an Enforcement Department probe for alleged money laundering and forex violations, Chouhan is under pressure to quit over the Vyapam admission and recruitment scandal.

On Wednesday, the Congress upped its aggression with MPs wearing black bands inside the force. Party president Sonia Gandhi led the charge saying, "Let them say what they want we will continue to protest."

The BJP too changed its strategy on the second day, fielding three Union ministers to launch an attack on Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat over an alleged liquor scam and the conviction of former Union minister PK Thungon.

External affairs minister Swaraj too created a flutter alleging that a senior Congress leader had approached her for a diplomatic passport for former minister of state Santosh Bagrodia, an accused in the coal scam.

"I will disclose name of the leader on the floor of the House," Swaraj tweeted.

A Union minister said: "Sushma Swaraj is ready to put the record straight...The opposition is not able to digest the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that is why it is resorting to all this. They don't want the government to succeed."

Sources said the government's counter-attack may see BJP MPs raising the issue of the "escape" of Warren Anderson, the chairperson and CEO of Union Carbide Corporation at the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy. The issue of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who is considered to be close to the Gandhi family and escaped punishment in the Bofors scandal, could also be raised.

"If they raise Lalit Modi, then issues of Quattrochi, Anderson and Dawood (Ibrahim) will also be discussed. The choice is theirs," the BJP leader said.

Amid the tug of war, the 21-day long monsoon session that began on Tuesday is expected to see turbulence over some key bills.

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