NEW DELHI:A shocker was waiting for the Congress on the penultimate day of the washed out Monsoon session of Parliament, as they softened its stance by agreeing to a discussion on ‘Lalitgate’ in the Lok Sabha. If their strategy was to embarrass Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj over the ‘help’ extended to former IPL chief, instead it revived a fusillade of past instances where the Congress had goofed up.
Sushma mounted a sharp counter-attack on the Congress saying the grand old party had helped Bofors case accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bhopal gas leak accused Warren Anderson flee India. Anderson’s escape came as a quid pro quo for the release of Gandhi family loyalist’s son Adil Shahryar from the US prison, Sushma charged. The External Affairs Minister twisted the knife further. Responding to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s charge that her family had taken money from the “symbol of black money” Lalit, Sushma said Rahul, who is fond of taking vacations, should take another one and introspect on his family’s history and “black deeds” ranging from Quattrocchi to Shahryar. “And when you return ask mamma (Sonia). How much money had been taken from Quattrocchi? Ask why daddy (Rajiv Gandhi) released the killer of 15,000 people (Anderson in Bhopal gas leak) in lieu of Shahryar. Khargeji (Mallikarjun Kharge) this is quid pro quo,” Sushma said in the Lok Sabha amid slogan shouting from the Congress MPs.
Sushma maintained that her ‘help’ for Lalit was based on humanitarian grounds and at that time he was not a fugitive from law. “It was only recently that the Finance Minister had started such proceedings against him, while the UPA did not do anything,” she said.
The Lower House had taken up the discussion on the issue after the Speaker accepted the adjournment motion moved by the Congress. There were several heated scenes in the House as the Congress and the BJP MPs traded charges.
When Sushma was speaking, two BJP MPs-- Brijkishore Singh and Kirit Somaiya-- physically blocked the entry of the Congress members into their side in the Well.