Sushma attacks Rahul, says Cong saved Quattrocchi and Anderson

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 12, 2015 20:30 IST
Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi. Swaraj said there was no wrongdoing on her part, and that she was only helping Modi's wife who is a cancer patient on humanitarian grounds. (PTI Photo)

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday launched a scathing attack against Rahul Gandhi saying that the Congress government led by his father had helped Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bhopal gas leak accused Warren Anderson flee from India.

Swaraj raked up the two old controversies involving former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi while making her statement during a discussion on the Lalit Modi controversy in the Lok Sabha.

"When Rahul goes on leave next, he should read the history of his family and then ask his mother, mamma , how much money had been taken from Quattrocchi, why did daddy (Rajiv Gandhi) get released the killer of 15,000 people (in Bhopal gas leak)," she said.

Swaraj, who has been battling opposition charges that there was a quid pro quo in her help to the former IPL chief , sought to turn the tables saying, " this is called quid pro quo... Rahul should ask (his mother), why they did the quid pro quo."

While she spoke amid slogan-shouting by Congress members, Sonia Gandhi was seen listening to the speech in rapt attention using headphone.

Swaraj also targeted former union minister P Chidambaram, saying he had failed to bring back Lalit Modi from United Kingdom as he did not try for his extradition as suggested by the host government and confined his requests to deportation.

"For four years, you (Congress government) did nothing. You remained inactive. There was no effort for extradition. You are asking me how he (Lalit Modi) got right of residency (in UK). He got it during your time. Whatever happened, it was during your tenure," she told the Congress

Swaraj said there was no wrongdoing on her part saying that she was only helping Modi's wife who is a cancer patient on humanitarian grounds.

"There's no conflict of interest in my case. My husband and daughter have not taken a single penny from Lalit Modi," she said, reacting to allegations that her family members were beneficiaries of the former cricket boss. The minister's husband and daughter are lawyers," he said

In a sign of thaw earlier in the day, the government accepted the Opposition's demand to discuss an adjournment motion on Swaraj's alleged role in the Lalit Modi controversy. It was Swaraj who requested the Speaker to accept a notice of adjournment given by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

As Opposition leader Kharge started to speak during the debate, Satish Kumar Goutam, the BJP MP from Aligarh, interrupted him.

A furious Sonia Gandhi rushed down to the Well, raising fingers at the ruling party members. The Congress president asked what prompted the BJP parliamentarian to speak without permission.

She was joined by other Congress lawmakers, including her son Rahul. The Trinamool and the Left too joined the protests. In the face of a united opposition, the Speaker adjourned the House till afternoon.

Read: Govt introduces GST bill in Rajya Sabha as Cong protests continue

Kharge kicked off the debate and held Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government responsible for the disruptions this monsoon session.

He said if Parliament had taken up the Lalit Modi issue earlier, so much of time would not have been wasted. Kharge also demanded the PM's presence in the House.

"PM Modi should be present in House to listen to us and assure that action will be taken. We will be satisfied if PM is present during the discussion. He only talks on radio and television. That is not right," said Kharge.

"We want to know PM's opinion on the Lalit Modi issue. There is no point if he is not present," he added.

The principal opposition party has disrupted House business this session, demanding the resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi get UK travel documents. The Congress also wants the ouster of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the multi-crore Vyapam scandal.

Kharge questioned why wasn't an appeal filed against Lalit Modi, who has been issued blue corner notice. He also said that Swaraj's family were lawyers in the Lalit Modi case and that is why he was protected.

"If you wanted to help him on humanitarian grounds, you should have done so keeping the law in mind. You should have asked him to come to India. Nobody was informed that you helped him," he said.

"In the guise of 'humanitarian grounds', you are supporting a man who is accused of tax evasion. What was done was illegal. It proves your (Swaraj) ties with Lalit Modi were deep and may have been financial."

"Lalit Modi's first priority to go to Portugal was to go for a wedding not for his wife," alleged Kharge, who also said law and humanitarian grounds are different and demanded Swaraj's resignation on moral grounds.

Kharge also attacked finance minister Arun Jaitley, saying he too never initiated an inquiry despite knowing about Lalit Modi's economic offence.

Disruptions in Rajya Sabha

In Rajya Sabha, where the government desperately wants the the goods and services tax bill to pass, the logjam over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues continued on the penultimate day of the monsoon session.

The House faced several adjournments before the chair called it a day. A section of the opposition asked the government to begin a debate followed by voting over the contentious issues, but no breakthrough could be reached.

As the House met, deputy chairman PJ Kurien said he had disallowed a notice -- as despite allowing it on several previous occasions, a debate was never taken up.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "Unless the prime minister replies, each notice should be treated as a fresh one."

Kurien responded: "I am ready to allow a discussion, (but) are you ready to move the motion?"

Congress leaders then said they would not begin the debate unless PM Modi was present in the House.

As Congress members created an uproar, chairman M Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 2pm. Post lunch, deputy chairman Kurien tried to take up the GST bill.

However, as ruckus continued, the House was adjourned for the day.

With this, the future of the GST bill seems uncertain.

The new system, if implemented, will significantly alter the country’s tax administration by replacing a string of central and local levies such as excise, value added tax and octroi with a single unified tax and stitching together a common national market.

(With agency inputs)

Read: War of words after GST bill stalled; Jaitley targets Sonia, Rahul

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