Setting the stage for a war of words with the Opposition in the run-up to the presidential poll, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Sushma Swaraj Sunday posted a tweet and a video clip on her Twitter account, raising questions over the approach of rival nominee Meira Kumar when she was Lok Sabha Speaker.
This is the first direct attack on either of the two main names in the fray by a prominent leader — the NDA candidate is Ram Nath Kovind. “This is how Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar treated the Leader of Opposition,” Swaraj posted along with the video clip.
The six-minute, 23-second clip, from the BJP’s YouTube channel, shows a part of the Lok Sabha proceedings on April 30, 2013, when the party was training its guns on the UPA II government on various corruption cases, particularly the coal scam.
In the video, Kumar is seen repeatedly telling Swaraj who is delivering a speech: “Alright, thank you so much… Yes, yes, alright, OK, alright, thank you… Please, I have to now proceed with this Sushmaji. Thank you, Sushmaji.”
In the video, Swaraj describes the UPA government as the “most corrupt government since Independence” and blames the ruling dispensation for disruptions in Parliament. Finally, she announces that her party will stage a walkout.
The video also shows Kumar asking Congress leader and then parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath if he wanted to speak. It shows Congress leader Kapil Sibal standing near his seat while party chief Sonia Gandhi is seen seated and listening to Swaraj speak.
In another tweet, Swaraj posted the link of an article from the website of “The Pioneer” newspaper, headlined ‘Speaker interrupted Sushma 60 times in 6-min speech’.
At the time, Swaraj had accused Sonia of inciting Congress MPs and ministers to disrupt her speech and alleged that the Speaker acted in a “partisan” manner and did nothing to stop the ruling party’s leaders.
Swaraj had later announced that her party would boycott all meetings called by the Speaker and Kamal Nath.
In 2011, Kumar had overruled Swaraj’s objections to her decision to allow Lok Sabha secretary general T K Vishwanathan an extension of one year. In a letter to Kumar in August that year, Swaraj had recalled that she had objected to Vishwanathan’s initial appointment in 2010, insisting that the secretary general should be from the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 6, 2013
In the same month, Swaraj and BJP veteran LK Advani had skipped a tea party hosted by the Speaker. Both leaders were said to have been agitated over Kumar “not stopping” Congress MPs from disrupting Advani while he was speaking on the cash-for-vote scam in the Lok Sabha.
In the same year, Swaraj had also raised objections to the then Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi being allowed to deliver a 10-minute “out of turn” speech on the Lokpal issue during Zero Hour while notices moved by other members were not allowed.