Congress members moved notices for breach of privilege against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday over his remarks at an election rally that an Italian court had named party president Sonia Gandhi in connection with the AgustaWestland chopper deal.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley asserted in the upper House that the PM could not be “gagged” from speaking against corruption, as the issue reverberated in Parliament for the second consecutive day.
Congress members alleged the PM “contradicted” defence minister Manohar Parrikar on the VVIP chopper purchase scam at the rally in Kanyakumari.
In the Lok Sabha, after speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow Congress leader Veerappa Moily to read out his privilege notice against the PM, party MPs resorted to a novel way of protest by sitting on the floor for over four hours until the House was adjourned for the day.
“Prime Minister is entitled to speak on corruption both inside and outside the House and he cannot be gagged,” Jaitley said, rebuffing Congress allegations. “Since when has an election speech by one politician against another outside the House started to be construed as breach of privilege?”
While Congress MP Shantaram Naik moved the breach of privilege motion against Modi and Parrikar in the Rajya Sabha, his party colleague M Veerappa Moily gave a similar notice against the PM in the Lok Sabha.
“Political speech outside by one politician against another is for publicity like the Congress members have been doing in front of media the whole of Monday,” Jaitley said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, stuck to the party stand, saying the statements made by Modi in the House or outside were as the Prime Minister and there could not be any distinction between them.
In his notice, Naik contended that “lies” had been told outside the House about UPA leaders taking money in the chopper deal.
In the Lok Sabha, Mahajan said Moily’s notice was under her consideration and she would allow him to speak only after she took a decision. When Moily wanted to make a point of order, the Speaker turned it down, saying it was not allowed during zero hour.
Dissatisfied Congress members then seated themselves on the floor in a semi-circle formation in the well of the Lok Sabha. Over 20 Congress MPs, including Mallikarjuna Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi and Ranjeet Ranjan, among others, continued to sit on the floor for four hours as the House discussed the issues of drought, drinking water and inter-linking of rivers.