NEW DELHI: In an escalation of confrontation, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday dubbed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as an “expert in theatrics” after her emotional defence on Lalit Modi issue, drawing a sharp retort from the BJP, which said it was easy to give “a byte” than to speak in Parliament.
Marking a renewed aggression by the Congress, which continued its protest against the suspension of 25 of its MPs from the Lok Sabha, its vice-president Rahul Gandhi went a step further, asking the External Affairs Minister to explain how much money her family got from Lalit Modi to keep him out of jail.
Sonia struck an uncharacteristically personal and aggressive tone in her response to Sushmas’s poser as to whether she would have acted differently if faced with such a situation. The minister posed the question while explaining her stand on the Lalit Modi issue in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
“Sushma Swaraj is doing drama, she is an expert in theatrics.... I would have certainly done my best to help the lady (Lalit’s wife) but not by breaking the law,” she told reporters.
Rahul also scaled up his aggression against the minister, saying the whole matter relating to Lalit Modi and her was kept a secret as is done in a “theft”. “When a theft occurs, two things take place. Whatever happens is in secrecy and there is a financial transfer. What Sushmaji did was by maintaining secrecy and keeping her ministry in the dark,” he asked. With no let-up in Congress tirade against Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the Lalit Modi saga, the BJP hit back at its rival’s “dynastic politics”.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said usually people have to earn their living, unlike the Gandhi family that seemed to be an “exception”.
Irani was scathing in her remarks against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who earlier said that Sushma’s family had taken money from Lalit -- a reference to the fact that Sushma’s lawyer husband and daughter had worked for the former IPL chief.
“People in this country know that a woman coming from a normal family has to toil hard to make space for herself in the society and its economy. It is generally seen that children of such women also work hard,” Irani said.
“The Congress may have an exception in the Gandhi family, where they do not have to sweat it out in the sun to earn their livelihood. I completely reject their charges (against Sushma),” Irani told reporters in the Parliament.
Referring to the shirtless protests by Youth Congress workers against Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Irani said the “boys of Congress” removed their shirts in protest. “Is this the value (that) Rahul wants the Congress to absorb?” she said.
Reacting to Sonia Gandhi dubbing Sushma’s statement as “theatrics”, Irani asked if Sonia wanted to say the Parliament had become a “theatre”.
“Such a statement is a disrespect to the people’s mandate... The Congress party, especially Rahul, should not work to reduce the Parliament’s respect,” she said.
Taking a dig at Sonia, Irani said that giving a byte for the cameras for one-and-a-half minutes may be easy, but speaking in Parliament for over one-and-a-half hours without the support of papers may be difficult.
She also attacked the Congress for its criticism of Naga peace accord.