21/07/2015 3:36 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Monsoon Session Day 1: Congress Party Causes Repeated Adjournments Over Lalit Modi Scandal


NEW DELHI -- Creating a ruckus over the Lalit Modi scandal and the Vyapam scam, Congress Party leaders paralysed Rajya Sabha on the first day of the monsoon session, while demanding resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The upper house of parliament was adjourned for the day on Tuesday afternoon as lawmakers took up the chant: "Bhrashtachari resign karo, uske baad pass karo" (Corrupt people will have to resign and then there will be discussion on passing bills)."

Sitaram Yechuri, lawmaker from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), demanded a high-level probe into the allegations against the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, and called for their resignation.

So far, the BJP and the Modi government have ruled out resignations of its leaders, but the paralysis in parliament is delaying discussion on a wide range of bills ranging from real estate to juvenile justice, and consumer protection to mental health.

At stake for the NDA government are two critical pieces of legislation: Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2014, which brings the biggest indirect tax reforms since 1947, and the controversial Land Bill 2015, which relaxes the provisions related to acquisition of land.

"I am hopeful that the parliament will live up to the country's expectations to act as a medium for constructive debate," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday morning.

Congress members forced repeated adjournments in the Rajya Sabha today even though Leader of the House Arun Jaitley offered to have a discussion on the Lalit Modi scandal.

Swaraj also said that she was ready to speak on the matter.

Swaraj has admitted to helping Lalit Modi, a fugitive from Indian law, obtain travel documents from British authorities, last year.

Raje stands accused of backing the immigration application of Lalit Modi, who is being investigated for money laundering related to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament. Raje extended her assistance in 2011, when she was Leader of the Opposition, on the condition that it would be hidden from the Indian government.

Vyapam is a massive scam which involves politicians and government officials allowing impostors to take exams for government jobs in Madhya Pradesh, and manipulating exam results, in exchange of vast sums of money. Several people connected with scam have died in mysterious circumstances since 2010.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu accused the opposition of "mudslinging."

The BJP also retaliated in the Rajya Sabha by calling for a discussion on the various scams under the Congress Party: Kerala fodder scam, Goa watergate project scam, Uttarakhand flood scam, Himachal Pradesh steel scam.

"We are ready to discuss pending issues from 'damaad' to Quattrocchi," said Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, PTI reported.

Observers, however, warn that raking up scams under the Congress Party will backfire on the BJP. "This a completely facetious line of argument because the BJP has lost its sheen and thoroughly exposed itself," said Ashutosh Misra, a political analyst at Lucknow University.

"The Congress Party may be no better. But the Congress is no longer the government. You (BJP) answer, you act and you be clean. That is what people expect," he said.

The Congress Party also decided to hold protests in the Lok Sabha from Wednesday. In a meeting chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi today, the party decided to protest near the Gandhi statute from 10:30 am with posters and black bands, NDTV reported.

Congress leader Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia will move an adjournment motion in parliament tomorrow, ANI reported.

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