The shoe is now on the other foot as Congress forced a washout of the day’s proceedings in the Rajya Sabha demanding the resignation of road transport minister Nitin Gadkari over alleged CAG indictment of the minister in securing loans for the Purti group from a public limited agency in violation of financial guidelines. After four adjournments in the morning session, proceedings had to be closed for the day as it was clear that the main opposition party was in no mood to relent.
As sloganeering assumed feverish pitch, Congress MPs shouted: “chicken curry na mutton curry istifa do Gadkari (neither chicken nor mutton curry, it is only resignation from Gadkari)”— it was a throwback to the pre-2014 Rajya Sabha when it was BJP that had stalled government business for days over corruption charges against UPA ministers, most of which were unveiled in CAG reports. Sources say the Upper House is unlikely to be able to transact much business over the remaining three days as Congress has indicated to other opposition parties that it would not let the issue go easily.
Congress had been belligerent from the very start with Digvijaya Singh raising the matter of the death of another person in the Vyapam scam but matters came to a head when Shantaram Naik raised the CAG report during zero hour. As if on cue, MPs got to their feet and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “This is a CAG Report, and on CAG Report, on earlier occasions, a number of heads have rolled. The BJP government, day in and day out, inside this House and outside the House, has been talking about transparency and corruption, and is also, at the same breath, talking about the scams during the UPA government. Now, here is a proved case against a Minister… He may not be Chairman today because after becoming a Minister, you cannot continue your business and you cannot be Chairman. But he is the person for whose Company this loan was taken and this is the Company against whom the CAG has taken the cognizance.”
If Azad’s reference to heads having rolled in the past on CAG reports was not enough, other Congress leaders made no bones about the fact that this was payback time. Former minister Renuka Chaudhry loudly egged her party colleagues on during the brief adjournments. “They did not let Rajya Sabha work when we were in government on corruption, we even removed a chief minister at their bidding. What makes them think that now we will work till nine in the night and on Saturdays too to pass their Bills,”she was heard telling MPs sitting around her during recess.
Some snide remarks from MoS Parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi about how the government is ready to have a discussion on corruption and it has always been the Congress that has tried to escape, did not help matters. When deputy chairman P J Kurien expunged Gadkari’s name from Naik’s speech, Congress replaced the name with “corrupt minister” in its slogans. During adjournments senior Congress leaders like Azad and Kumari Selja walked across to the seats of other opposition parties like Samajwadi and Trinamool to enlist their support. The ruckus continued into the Question Hour and even as Azad managed to calm his partymen down to allow JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav an intervention, chairman Hamid Ansari did not allow it on the ground that if he allowed one person he would have to allow several others.
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