Minister Sushma Swaraj Accepts Congress Challenge

Minister Sushma Swaraj Accepts Congress Challenge

Accepting the Opposition’s challenge, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said today that she is ready for a debate on the controversy that has led to a paralysis of Parliament, with the Congress demanding her removal for helping tainted cricket tycoon Lalit Modi.

“The Prime Minister must be present when the minister makes her statement,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, who leads the Congress in the Lok Sabha. His party has asked that the House suspend all scheduled business to discuss the charges against the Foreign Minister, who urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to sanction the request or adjournment motion.

This session of Parliament ends tomorrow, without having been able to get to work because of unrelenting disruptions by the Congress, a strategy endorsed by its top two leaders, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Key legislation – including the landmark tax reform that seeks to create a national sales tax and a  unified marketplace across the 29 states – has been stalled because of the Congress’ protests, which continued unabated today with members shouting “Yeh nahin chalega (this will not do).”

Frustrated, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan last week suspended 25 of the Congress’ meagre pool of 44 members of the Lok Sabha. “I will not allow 40 members to stomp over the wishes of 400 others,” she said yesterday, referring to the Congress’ refusal to  allow a debate in the house on “Lalitgate”.

The government has said that if a debate begins, the PM will make a statement on the scandals that have engulfed Mrs Swaraj and two other top BJP leaders, Chief Ministesr Vasundhara Raje  and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Ms Swaraj told the Lok Sabha last week that when she told the UK government last year that she did not have any objections to Lalit Modi being allowed to accompany his sick wife to Portugal, she was seeking to assist “on humanitarian grounds” a cancer patient who has broken no laws. That explanation does not count, the Congress has said, because many opposition law-makers were missing when the minister made her statement.

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