NEW DELHI -- Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon on Tuesday after uproar over the Lalit Modi controversy.
Congress Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma had given a notice to discuss the Modi issue ahead of the first day of the monsoon session. Sharma asked the government what the "humanitarian grounds" were, based on which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had helped the tainted ex-IPL commissioner.
"Where is the question of humanity in this?" he asked in Parliament even as other members of the opposition raised slogans against the BJP government.
Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley immediately responded, saying the BJP was ready for discussion on the issue and would answer all questions. "Please start the discussion and we'll reply," he told the House. "If Anand Sharma ji wants a discussion, then EAM Swaraj is ready to speak on the issue." Swaraj had earlier indicated that she would give a statement on the controversy.
However, ruckus continued in the Parliament, with members of other parties including the Left joining in, forcing the House to adjourn. Tempers are expected to fly in the Parliament with Congress declaring they would question BJP on a string of scams that have plagued the government in the last few weeks.
There is accountability in session regarding suspicions against any minister. PM promised transparency, but its a lie: Anand Sharma, Cong— ANI (@ANI_news) July 21, 2015
Congress wants PM to hold the same standards for his ministers that they wanted us to hold when they were in opposition: Anand Sharma, Cong— ANI (@ANI_news) July 21, 2015
BJP's political rivals have demanded the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who helped Lalit Modi, a fugitive from India law, obtain travel documents from British authorities, and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje who backed the former IPL commissioner's immigration plea.
Vyapam is a massive scam which involves politicians and government officials allowing impostors to take exams for government jobs in Madhya Pradesh, in exchange of vast sums of money. Several people connected with scam have died in mysterious circumstances since 2010.
The Congress Party has 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.
BJP has indicated that it was ready to take on Congress' attack at the Parliament.
"The government is willing to discuss everything. We have nothing to hide, nothing to worry," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.
In fact, several BJP MPs have also given notices for discussion on scams in Congress-ruled states, indicating that both parties had drawn battle lines. His deputy Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi took on the Congress saying that they are ready for discussion on all issues but the opposition party "wants only disruption".
"This is nothing more than the noise of skeletons of Congress' corruption. We are ready to discuss pending issues from 'damaad' to Quattrocchi," he said referring to the controversial land deals of Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and the Bofors scam.
The ruling alliance was ready to discuss "Kerala fodder scam, Goa watergate project scam, Uttarkhand flood scam, Himachal Pradesh steel scam," he told PTI.
Stressing that BJP MPs have given notices for discussion on these "scams", Naqvi said the government was prepared with its reply to Congress' charges.
"This out of tune chorus of dishonest Congress will utterly fail. As far as passage of bills is concerned, they are not BJP's bills but meant for the countrymen and the poor," he said.
By protesting, Congress's image will be damaged further, we support Sushma ji-Sanjay Raut,Shiv Sena on Lalit Modi row pic.twitter.com/85S4VSTBxW— ANI (@ANI_news) July 21, 2015
The government and main opposition Congress have locked horns over the controversies surrounding Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje on Lalit Modi issue and Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Vyapam scam, setting the stage for confrontation in Parliament.
While Congress has made it clear that it will not allow Parliament to function unless the BJP leaders facing allegations quit, the government has asserted that there will be no resignations and that it will not give in to any ultimatum.
Talking about Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's comments that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 56-inch chest will be reduced to 5.6 inches, Naidu said, "It is really absurd and Congress should rather ponder why their number has come down to just 44 MPs".
Taking on Rahul over his comments that Congress will not allow even an inch of land to be taken by the government, the senior Minister said, "It means that they are not going to allow development of this country and this is not acceptable".
He added that at yesterday's all-party meeting, the overwhelming view of parties except Congress was that Parliament should function.
"Are we going to discuss state related issues? That is to be discussed and decided," he said. When asked if he thinks that onus to run the House is also on opposition, he shot back asking whether the House means only ruling party.
"Everybody has a responsibility to run Parliament," he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had voiced hope that the Monsoon Session of Parliament will be fruitful and that promises made by "some political parties" during the last session to allow work on priority will be kept.
(with PTI inputs)