NEW DELHI -- With four days left to go for the Monsoon Session to conclude, and the Congress Party continuing to paralyse both houses of parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today railed against the ruckus prevailing in the Rajya Sabha.
A visibly irate Jaitley said that it was an "sad commentary" on the upper house if the Leader of Opposition speaks, but the government is not allowed to respond.
"The House cannot be conducted in a manner in which the government is not being allowed to speak," he told Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who is also a Congress Party leader. "It is unfortunate how the House is being conducted. It's your responsibility."
On Monday morning, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "The government has not responded on the issues which have blocked parliament for the past three weeks."
So far, the Congress Party has not allowed any work to be conducted in parliament since the Monsoon Session kicked off on June 21. The Modi government has just four days left to discuss critical bills, especially the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which will bring about the biggest indirect tax reform since 1947.
While crores in taxpayers money has been wasted over the three-week logjam in parliament, a resolution at this late stage seems unlikely as the Congress Party remains unflinching in demanding the resignations of three senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders before parliament can function.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje stand accused of helping cricket magnate Lalit Modi, a fugitive from Indian law, who is being investigated for money laundering in connection with the Indian Premier League tournament. Last week, the Mumbai High Court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is being asked to step down over the Vyapam Scam, a massive recruitment racket involving ministers and governments officials in the state, which has become notorious for a series of unexplained deaths since 2010.
Addressing the media on Monday afternoon, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi censured Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking on the Vyapam scam after "the future of thousands has been destroyed by his CM."
Despite facing criticism for paralysing parliament over the past three weeks, the Congress Party has stuck to its "resignations before discussion" stand, and the BJP has attempted to isolate its main political rival within the opposition.
The Aam Aadmi Party, the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Samajvadi Party have backed away from completely obstructing parliament, but the Left parties continue to back the Congress Party.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Samajvadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, said, "We won't support Congress protest."
Rahul Attacks Sushma - Again
Taking advantage of the Lok Sabha boycott by the Congress Party, last week, Swaraj gave a detailed explanation of her involvement in the Lalit Modi scandal.
The foreign minister said that she had not asked the British authorities to provide travels papers to the former IPL commissioner, but only informed the U.K. government that the issuance of such documents would not negatively impact relations between the two countries.
Swaraj said that she had acted on "humanitarian grounds" so that Lalit Modi could be with his wife, who was undergoing cancer surgery at a facility in Lisbon in August 2014.
But observers have pointed out that Swaraj's husband and daughter have served as lawyers for Lalit Modi, who has described their relations as "close."
Gandhi, who has previously called Swaraj a "criminal," today questioned the foreign minister about her family's "financial transactions" with Lalit Modi, and asked how much of his money was in their bank account.
Meanwhile, Jaitlety said that the Congress Party was using Swaraj as an excuse to block the GST Bill.
If Sushmaji wanted to be kind &charitable to Mr Lalit Modi why do it in secret,why hide,why not tell your Ministry,why not tell the country?— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) August 10, 2015
Sushma ji par is tarah ka aarop lage kisi ne aisa socha bhi nahin tha: FM Arun Jaitley pic.twitter.com/Z7WSmhLoDE— ANI (@ANI_news) August 10, 2015