Stepping up its attack on the government over the Rafale issue, the Congress on Friday held a protest in the Parliament premises and disrupted Rajya Sabha proceedings demanding a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).
Most of the Opposition parties stayed away from the protest — led by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi — and were silent when the issue was raised in the Upper House. Barring the CPI and AAP, none of the opposition leaders was seen at the Congress protest in front of the Gandhi statue.
When asked about the triple talaq Bill, Sonia said, “Our party’s position is absolutely clear on this, I will not say anything further.”
Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice within minutes during the pre-lunch session amid protests by Congress members. Deputy Chairman Harivansh, chairing his first session, kept appealing to them to allow Zero Hour to function. While Zero Hour continued amid the din, Congress members raised the pitch and other Opposition members entered the well to raise their issues as well. The Deputy Chairman then adjourned the House for a few minutes before Zero hour was to end.
When the House met for Question Hour, Congress members stood in the aisles and shouted slogans. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the House till noon.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that the Rafale deal was a “big scam” and there should be a JPC probe into it. Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma said that whenever such demands were raised during previous Congress regimes, a JPC probe was ordered.
In Lok Sabha, the Rafale issue was raised by Congress’s Sunil Jakhar and TMC’s Saugata Roy. Jakhar alleged that businessmen close to the government got their companies registered in the BSE just before the deal was clinched.
The Congress has alleged that the government compromised national security and caused a loss of over Rs 12,000 crore to the taxpayer with its deal to buy 36 French Rafale fighter jets. Citing the annual report of Dassault Aviation, makers of the fighter aircraft, the party alleged that the company sold each jet to India at Rs 351 crore, higher than the prices of those sold to Qatar and Egypt 11 months ago.
However, Union minister Arun Jaitley said the allegations were an attempt to malign the government, and nothing but “reprocessed lies by forces increasingly desperate to prove their relevance”. He said the government had already responded effectively to every distortion and misinformation on the issue.