Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said Parliament would be allowed to function only after foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP CMs resign, a demand the ruling party firmly rejected while threatening him with a defamation suit.
Gandhi, who had on Thursday accused Swaraj of committing a “criminal act” by helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi, kept up the pressure on the government, signalling a washout of the monsoon session that hasn’t got any work done for four days running.
“I have made it clear that Parliament will not function till resignations happen,” the Congress leader said in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh, which he visited as part of a nationwide padyatra in support of farmers.
The Congress wants Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje to quit for allegedly helping Lalit Modi obtain travel documents in the UK. The party is also gunning for Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan over a multi-crore recruitment and admission racket, better known as the Vyapam scam.
“If we keep silent on these issues, it would be a disservice to the people of the nation,” he said, making it clear that the Congress was ready for a long haul. But he was once again critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged silence his party colleagues.
“Modi’s silence has become his inability now. It is fascinating that our PM speaks on everything from Yoga to space, America to Japan, Korea and keeps drumming up (his endeavours). But now he is not speaking … any malfunction?” he asked.
Gandhi has been relentless in his attacks on the government. “She (Swaraj) is a minister in the government who has done a criminal act. So, when you do a criminal act, you go to jail,” he had told reporters in Parliament complex on Thursday.
Swaraj’s cabinet colleague Nitin Gadkari on Friday threatened a criminal defamation case against Gandhi for his remarks against Swaraj. “Rahul Gandhi using these words is very unfortunate, undemocratic… He has defamed the foreign minister who is India’s representative in the world…If he does not apologise, then it is a serious problem. We will have to file criminal defamation case against him,” the transport minister said.
Another minister Prakash Javadekar accused Gandhi of “crossing all limits of decency” and “resorting to the politics of spit and run”.
There was no question of asking Swaraj or any CM to resign and the government would wait for the Congress to wear itself out, sources said, claiming “signs of disintegration were getting increasingly visible” in the Opposition camp.
The standoff is a throwback to days when the BJP was in the opposition and the Congress was forced to sack two ministers in the UPA government and a CM over allegations of corruption after the saffron party stalled Parliament.
“The Congress removed railways minister, law minister and a CM on just allegations of corruption. But under the MP chief minister, 40 murders took place... Should the Congress remain silent about this? Please apply same rules,” Rahul told HT when asked about Parliament logjam.
Forty people linked to the Vyapam scam have died, many of them under mysterious circumstances. “Raje colluded with a criminal, Sushma’s daughter and husband worked for a criminal. BJP CM of MP allowed murders in a scam,” he said.
“Modi’s line earlier was khaaunga nahi, khaane bhi nahi doonga … but now Chauhan, Chhattisgarh, Sushma Swaraj, Raje … inko khaane de rahe hein.”
Asked about corruption charges against Congress CMs, Gandhi shot back, “There was no Vyapam in Himachal Pradesh.”
Read: Rahul begins Andhra padyatra, slams PM Modi over farmers' plight
Rahul says Sushma committed 'criminal act', questions PM's silence