Updated: August 13, 2015 7:44:02 am
The monsoon session of Parliament headed for an acrimonious close when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose resignation was sought by the Congress as a pre-condition for functioning of the House, tore into Sonia and Rahul Gandhi Wednesday. She said they should first explain why the late Rajiv Gandhi helped Bofors scandal accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson flee the country.
Allowed by the Lok Sabha Speaker to intervene in a debate on the allegations of helping Lalit Modi, Swaraj ignored Congress protests and trained her guns on Rahul who had accused her family of taking money from the former IPL chief.
She said he should first ask his “mamma… how much money was taken from Quattrocchi” and “why did daddy allow the release of the killer of 15,000 people (victims of the Bhopal gas leak)”.
WATCH VIDEO (Sushma-Rahul Slugfest : Bitter End To Parliament Session)
Speaking over the din as Congress MPs protested in the well of the House, Swaraj claimed there was no quid pro quo in her case but there was quid pro quo — she even spelled it out — when Rajiv Gandhi helped Quattrocchi and Anderson.
“Rahul should ask (his mother), why they did the quid pro quo.” As Swaraj went on, Sonia Gandhi listened in rapt attention. At times, Rahul would lean over to have a word with her.
Reading aloud from the autobiography of the late Arjun Singh, who was the Congress chief minister of Madhya Pradesh during the Bhopal disaster, Swaraj said the book implied that Rajiv Gandhi had allowed safe passage out of India to Anderson in quid pro quo to get his close friend Adil Shahryar released from a jail in the US where he had been handed a 35-year sentence.
Shahryar’s father Mohammad Yunus, she said, was a close family friend of the Gandhis. “Shahryar’s mercy plea was accepted by US President Ronald Regan the day Rajiv reached America on a state visit,” she said as Sonia and Rahul listened.
She also targeted former Union Minister P Chidambaram, saying he failed to bring back Lalit Modi from the United Kingdom because he did not seek his extradition, as suggested by the host government, and insisted on deportation.
“For four years, you (Congress government) did nothing. You remained inactive. There was no effort for extradition. You are asking me how he (Lalit Modi) got right of residency (in UK). He got it during your time. Whatever happened, it was during your tenure.”
Swaraj said Chidambaram’s wife being a lawyer in the Saradha scam case, while he was Finance Minister, was a perfect example of quid pro quo.
“My husband, on the other hand, has not taken a naya paisa from Lalit Modi. He was not Lalit Modi’s lawyer in the passport case. As for my daughter, she was the ninth junior counsel accompanying the senior to the court. She too did not charge any money for it. Where is the question of my family benefiting?”
Lal Krishna Advani, sitting next to Swaraj, was visibly moved by her speech. He fought back tears that welled up when she said that her 38-year career in politics had been without blemish. He patted her on the back in support.
At one point, protesting Congress MPs in the well started inching towards the treasury benches to block Swaraj, but BJP MPs like Kirit Somaiya and others rushed in and stopped them while Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu protested.
Unperturbed, Swaraj continued: “Rahul Gandhi is fond of taking two-month-long vacations. I want to advise him, the next time he heads for a vacation, he should take time out to read the history of his own family first.”
To end the debate, Jaitley said the chronology of facts showed that the UPA government was never serious about bringing back Lalit Modi and had handled the case lightly.
“…every step that you took including wanting him to be brought back by physical deportation — the British said this is not permissible in law — you were taking the wrong steps, and creating a false cloud as though you were doing something and the present government is favouring him. The truth is to the contrary that you took steps where you could never succeed,” he said.
The correct steps, he said, would be taken now. And these would include, he said, registration of a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, activation of the case, summoning Lalit Modi in that case for the first time, getting a non-bailable warrant against him, moving for a red corner alert against him. “Seems like the Congress has made a mountain out of what is not even a molehill,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.