NEW DELHI: A day after being washed out in the Lok Sabha debate, the Congress on Thursday fielded P Chidamabaram to return some fire and demand an apology from External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for “dragging” former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi’s name “to build her defence” in Lalit Modi controversy.
Chidambaram said Sushma and Arun Jaitley gave long “sermonising speeches” but “failed to answer the crucial questions” that arose out of the grant of travel papers to Lalit Modi-- “a person living abroad without a valid passport, visa or permit to avoid Indian investigation into his alleged economic offences”-- by the UK authorities, in contravention of the Government of India’s earlier stand.
“I’m afraid that the two ministers have failed the government and the people. Instead of a debate, we got a diatribe. Instead of answers, we got sermons. Instead of facts, we got fudge,” Chidambaram said.
Trying to recover the ground ceded to the political rival which called the Congress disruptions of a session “motivated” and “without substance”, Chidambaram termed Sushma-Jaitley fightback as “a last-ditch effort” to wish away uncomfortable questions.
“If the ministers think that these questions would go away, I’m afraid they will not,” he said.
Once again taking up the matter of non-release of his letter written in his former capacity as the Union Finance Minister, Chidambaram said that three sets of questions persisted-- One, relating to the MEA intervention, second, Lalit’s passport case and third, the letters he had written in his capacity as FM to his British counterpart.
Chidambaram again sought to know who “took the decision not to file an appeal in the Supreme Court in Lalit’s passport cancellation case”.
On the Prime Minister’s charge against the Congress’ disruptions made at an NDA MPs and ministers’ meeting on Thursday, as a struggle to save the Gandhi family, he said, “The family has made sacrifices and has been in politics for five generations -- they do not need saviours. Though criticised by some, they’ve got the adulation of many people.”
Haranguing Sushma for “dragging” Rajiv, who’s not alive to defend himself, Chidambaram said that his party was seeking “unqualified apology” from the minister for spreading “blatant falsehood”.
In a related development, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asking that the allegations made by Sushma against Rajiv be expunged.