In the eye of the storm that rocked the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Sushma Swaraj quietly went about her business in the Lok Sabha. Though the first day of the monsoon session was centred on her, Sushma was away from the action of the Upper House but active in the Lok Sabha, which met just for obituary references.
And though the opposition has called for her resignation over her links with Lalit Modi, she not only found gestures of support from MPs of her party and its allies but was also seen in conversation with some Opposition members. Those who greeted and spoke to her included Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Clad in a deep peach saree paired with a sadri (sleeveless jacket), Sushma entered the Lok Sabha a few minutes before the House met. She was greeted by a number of MPs of the BJP and its allies, who looked as if they were eager to express their solidarity with the beleaguered leader in the wake of the opposition’s demand for her resignation. Some BJP MPs even touched her feet.
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Sushma and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu walked together to the Opposition benches where they greeted leaders including Sonia and Mulayam. Sonia and Sushma were seen engaging in a brief conversation before Sushma went to the treasury benches and greeted BJP veteran L K Advani.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi entered, Sushma went to him and he was seen gesturing as if in a reassuring manner. Once the House was adjourned after tributes to the those recently deceased, Prime Minister Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Sushma engaged in an animated discussion. Mulayam joined them and at one point Modi was seen holding the SP leader’s arm while the latter was explaining something.
While the Opposition created a ruckus calling for the resignation of Sushma and BJP chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, leading to repeated adjournments, Sushma went to the room of Arun Jaitley, Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha. Sources said she had a brief conversation with Jaitley.
During the exchange in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley had said the government was ready for a discussion on the controversy and Sushma could reply. “If they want a statement from the external affairs minister, we are ready for it. Sushma Swaraj will make a statement within five minutes,” Jaitley said.
After her meeting with Jaitley, Sushma told The Indian Express that she did not have any official meeting for the day. “I am going to my home (8 Safdarjung Lane) for lunch and will get ready for the (cabinet) meeting (at 6.30 pm),” she said.
She did not go to the South Block office, though officials there were busy preparing for Wednesday’s question hour. Her office is monitoring the situation in her rains-hit constituency, Vidisha, and keeping Sushma informed, sources said.