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Cong rallies shaky Oppn to pin down Modi govt in Parliament

As the different controversies involving union cabinet ministers, a chief minister and a state minister gains momentum, the beleaguered Congress has found yet another issue to get the Opposition rally behind it.

india Updated: Jun 25, 2015 19:24 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
Congress,BJP controversies,Lalit Modi scandal

Controversies surrounding four BJP ministers have given the Congress another opportunity to rally other opposition parties to take on the NDA government.

Senior Congress leaders on Thursday said the Left, DMK, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Janata Dal (United) are already on board to take on the BJP, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been maintaining a studied silence on the first major political storm to hit his government.

“What is the reason for PM Modi’s silence? Where is the transparency he had promised?” asked Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Thursday.

The ruling BJP has been sucked into a string of controversies, with foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje in trouble over their purported help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi.

To add to its woes, a Delhi court admitted a fake-degree case against Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani and Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde got entangled in an alleged R206-crore child benefit scandal.

The Congress was able to galvanise the opposition over some of the NDA government’s controversial bills, such as the one to amend the land acquisition law. But the big regional parties, which have a significant presence in the Lok Sabha, have yet to join the Congress chorus against the government on the controversies engulfing the woman ministers.

“We are not joining the Congress chorus. We will make our position clear at an appropriate time,” said Bhartruhari Mahtab, the Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) Lok Sabha leader.

Sources said the Congress is in touch with the Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) to add to the opposition’s firepower when Parliament opens for the monsoon session next month.

The Congress has just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha, where the BJP enjoys a brute majority.

Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK with 37 MPs and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD with 20 — both staunch anti-Congress parties — together flex more strength in the House. The Trinamool, with 34 seats, had often aspired to take a leading role in the opposition space.

New evidence against Raje and the court case against Irani could force a change of mind in the dithering opposition ranks, Congress leaders hoped.

“We have time before the monsoon session begins. On key issues such as the land bill, we could unite the opposition. This time too, we are hopeful of a larger unity,” said a Congress strategist.

The party has announced that Parliament can’t function unless Swaraj, Irani and Raje were shown the door, although a belligerent BJP leadership has defended its ministers.

The Congress also wants to use the opportunity to delay the passage of two key bills — land and GST — which are slated to come up in the monsoon session.

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First Published: Jun 25, 2015 13:12 IST