The war over National Herald case hotted up further today with the Congress members completely paralysing Rajya Sabha for the third straight day and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacking the party saying India has not accepted the diktat ‘Queen’ is above law, a sharp but veiled dig at Sonia Gandhi.
Like the previous two days, proceedings in Rajya Sabha were washed out as Congress members continued to create uproar over the Herald case, triggering protests from the ruling side which contended that the House was being held “hostage”.
The Upper House was repeatedly adjourned and the final adjournment for the day came minutes after 3 pm because of relentless shouting of slogans against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Congress members who were in the Well all the time.
Trouble started soon after the House met for the day with Congress members raising anti-government slogans over the summons issued by a Delhi court to party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
The noisy scenes first forced Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the House till 1130 hours and then again till noon.
Full coverage of National Herald case
Kurien also got the listed papers of the day laid on the table and then called for Zero Hour mentions, as noisy scenes continued.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi expressed strong object to the opposition’s behaviour.
“Ministers are sitting in the House to answer questions of members. If some members are not seeking to ask questions, why are other members being prevented from doing so? Some people cannot hold the House to ransom. Unfortunately, some people are taking this House hostage. The House needs your protection,” he told Chairman Hamid Ansari during Question Hour.
Congress members continued slogan-shouting like “Modi teri tanashahi nahi chalegi (Prime Minister’s authoritarianism will not be tolerated).”
BJP members were also on their feet as Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated that the government was ready for discussion on “all issues”.
“We are ready for a debate on all the issues, including the National Herald case and Himachal Pradesh chief minister’s issue. We are ready for a debate right away. Why is Parliament not allowed to function…They are running away from debate. Start discussion on…on all issues,” he said amid noise.
Similar scenes were repeated after every adjournment before Deputy Chairman P J Kurien called it a day a little after 3 PM.
In the evening, Jaitley took to Facebook to mount a strong attack on the Congress party saying it has created a “chakravyuh” (trap) from which it has to extricate itself by facing court and not by disrupting Parliament.
Rejecting the Congress charge of political vendetta being pursued by the government, he said the Government has “so far not taken any punitive action”.
He was apparently referring to the Congress plea against summons issued to Sonia, her son Rahul Gandhi and others, which was dismissed by Delhi High Court. The Congress later changed tact and submitted to the trial court that they were ready to appear.
Without naming Sonia or Rahul Gandhi, Jaitley said the Congress leaders created a ‘Chakravyuh’ for themselves through a series of financial transactions where tax-exempt income of a political party was transfered to a real estate company.
“The Enforcement Directorate has not issued any notice to them. The Income Tax authorities will follow their own procedure… The Government has passed no order in relation to the disputed transactions,” he said.
Detailing the issues involved, he said a Criminal Court had taken cognisance of the offence and the High Court agreed with the Trial Court.
“The battle has to be fought legally. But the results of legal battles are always uncertain. The Congress is, therefore, crying foul and calling it political vendetta,” he said asking if the charge was against the courts.
The minister said there was equality before the law for everyone.
“No one is above the law. India has never accepted the diktat that the queen is not answerable to the law. Why should the Congress Party and its leaders not contest the notice before the Court?
“The Government cannot help them in the matter, nor can the Parliament. Why then disturb the Parliament and prevent the legislative activity from continuing?,” he said.
Jaitley said the answer to the Congress leadership landing up in a ‘Chakravyuh’ is to fight their battle legally and not disrupt Parliament.
“By disrupting democracy the financial web created by the Congress leaders cannot be undone,” he said.
Congress has for three days in a row stalled functioning of the Rajya Sabha, where the crucial Goods and Service Tax (GST) is awaiting approval for rolling out the landmark indirect tax regime from April 1, 2016.