NEW DELHI: The day (Monday) which ended with an unprecedented suspension of 25 out of 44 Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha, began with Sonia Gandhi launching a blistering attack on the Centre by rejecting the offer of the Prime Minister’s intervention on Lalitgate and Vyapam issues in Parliament to break the impasse.
The Congress chief, addressing her party MPs on Monday morning, insisted that those responsible for “gross wrongdoings” -- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan -- should first resign, thus nipping the possibility of any breakthrough that could be reached at the all-party meeting.
Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress president said he was conspicuous by his “deafening silence on the blatant transgressions” by his External Affairs Minister and two Chief Ministers.
“The champion of ‘Mann ki Baat’ appears to have retreated into a maun vrat,” she said, while lashing out at the PM and the BJP at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting here.
Sonia said the party was very clear that there could be “no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for gross wrongdoings remained in office”.
“Our stand is straightforward and clear from day one. There is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in public domain for the Prime Minister to require the resignations of the External Affairs Minister and the two Chief Ministers,” she said, just ahead of an all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu to resolve the two-week long deadlock.
Making a strong pitch for “resign first, debate later” line, she wondered whether the BJP had forgotten that it is the “author of the principle which it had used on at least five different occasions since 1993”. She preceded the remark by saying that since memory was short, the party needed to remind its political adversaries who “conveniently are suffering from selective amnesia”.
“Today, we have to listen to sermons on Parliamentary behaviour from those, who not only defended but also advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic when they were in the Opposition. Yesterday’s agitators in both the Houses have suddenly become today’s champions of debate and discussion,” she said.
Sonia, who is also the chairperson of the CPP, declared that the Congress would “persist” with making its points “forcefully and emphatically” both in Parliament and outside.
Just two more weeks are left for the Monsoon Session to conclude, seeking to end the impasse, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah had said the Prime Minister would be prepared to make an intervention during a debate on the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.
But Sonia alleged that the impasse was due to the “gross insensitivity of Modi Government to public opinion, for its absolute silence on acts of monumental corruption, its wilful violations of the law and gross misdemeanour on the part of its leading lights.”
No productive discussions, no meaningful proceedings, as long as action is not taken against those responsible for gross wrongdoings, she said.
“We are not being aggressive just to match the BJP’s aggression of past, we are forced to take our position because of the BJP’s brazen attitude,” she added.
However, by the end of the day, her speech was overtaken by events, viz the suspension of over two dozen Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha.