Former Defence minister AK Antony with Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Anand Sharma in Parliament on Monday | Shekhar Yadav
NEW DELHI: On the fourth day of the Monsoon session, the houses of Parliament remained busy with the amendment Bills, particularly the one seeking to make the child rape law far more stringent (there’s been a spurt in gruesome incidents in recent months). Outside the house, the tug-of-war between the government and the Opposition Congress over the Rafale fighter jet deal continued in full steam. Not that it reached any conclusion; nor did the privilege motions prove to be a deterrent. As the muckraking over the ‘secrecy clause’ and pricing got out of hand, former Defense Minister AK Antony came out of his ususal reclusiveness to assert that he never inked or framed any secret clause with the French Government that stopped either side from disclosing the overall cost or the price of each aircraft, keeping the technical specifications, equipment, fittings et al under wraps for security reasons.
The taxpayer has a right to know how much money is getting spent on acquiring the fighter jets, he told a group of MPs in the Central Hall. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who held a counter presser, thought otherwise. However, Prasad’s media briefing was deferred for a few hours. It seems he was reluctant to contradict Antony immediately, and instead targeted Rahul Gandhi. The Parliament archives, meanwhile, are under everyone’s radar — in 12 defence deals the price was disclosed to the house, but not in many others.
Irani found a purpose
Textile Minister Smriti Irani, who fashions herself as a Rahul Gandhi-baiter, suddenly found herself back in the reckoning. In the ‘cloth dump’, meaning the Textile Ministry, after exiting I&B, Irani bounced back with a series of tweets on Monday, taking on the Congress chief for his sharp attack on the government. Rahul cited reports to allege police complicity in the recent Alwar lynching — with the ‘brutal New India’. While Irani tried showing a mirror to the Congress, Minister of many ministries, Piyush Goyal, called him ‘merchant of hate’ in a Twitter war.
Dressed for protest
Galla Jaidev is the new star of the TDP camp. As the party MPs protested under the Gandhi statue, demanding Special Catagory Status for AP, Jaidev was much in demand. Till N Sivaprasad dressed as poet Annamayy, a devotee of Lord Balaji, arrived on the scene. His unusual get-up obviously stole the show.