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Haven’t come across such an insensitive government: Ghulam Nabi Azad

The opposition is ready to cooperate on the passage of important legislation, Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad said in an interview, but insisted that the NDA government act against those who have looted public money and fled the country.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2018 22:35 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ghulam Nabi Azad,NDA government,Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Karti Chidambaram’s arrest is merely to divert the attention of the people from the real subject and change the public discourse, which is centered round the escape of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.(Arun Sharma/HT File Photo)

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, says the onus of ensuring that Parliament functions smoothly is on the government. The opposition is ready to cooperate on the passage of important legislation, Azad said in an interview, but insisted that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government act against those who have looted public money and fled the country. He also claimed that Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, is being made a scapegoat to divert public attention from bank frauds and the escape of jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the main suspects in a fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The stalemate in Parliament continues. What is your demand?

We want action against the offenders. The government is responsible for the stalemate. The onus of functioning of Parliament is on the government. Ever since the NDA has come to power, it has never made any effort to resolve and discuss issues of national and international importance on the floor of the House. We have never come across such an insensitive government, as seen with its decisions on demonetisation, GST (Goods and Services Tax) and other matters. It should come forward and clear the air on various issues, be it the Rafale deal, bank frauds, Lalit Modi, and the escape of Vijay Mallya, Jatin Mehta, and now Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

Will a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi break the deadlock?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to bring back all the black money stashed abroad, but during the past four years, this government has miserably failed to get back even a penny. The government has been bragging about having good relations with the entire world. If that is the so, why hasn’t the Prime Minister used his good offices to bring at least one fugitive back to India? This shows that no sincere and serious effort is being made by this government.

Important legislation is on the agenda during the budget session. Are you ready to walk the extra mile to ensure the passage of important bills?

We will definitely support the government on the passage of important bills because the legislation is not for any political party but for the people of this country. Even in the past, we have worked extra time to pass important bills. That is the primary duty of legislators and parliamentarians and we are not going to forego that responsibility. But at the same time, we want to hold the government answerable and accountable. We want the government to bring back to India all those offenders who have run away with the public money.

Do you think the arrest of Karti Chidambaram in a money laundering case has taken the sting out of your offensive against the government on the alleged PNB scam?

Karti’s arrest is merely to divert the attention of the people from the real subject and change the public discourse, which is centered round the escape of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The government has become a laughing stock. There is also a buzz that Nirav Modi had left the country with the full knowledge of the government. Karti is being made a scapegoat. The government may try everything to divert public attention but let me tell you this issue will not die down unless and until the government takes concrete steps to bring these fugitives back to India.

The opposition is divided over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the suspected PNB fraud and the escape of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. What is your take on it?

The demand for a JPC was not at all discussed in the Congress or at any joint meeting with other opposition parties. The idea was conceived by somebody and rejected by somebody. But on the issue of the bank frauds, not only the entire opposition but the entire country is united, concerned and wants immediate action against the culprits.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 22:34 IST