NEW DELHI: The court room drama may have been averted on Tuesday as a Delhi Court hearing the National Herald case, but the issue snowballed into a major political controversy as Congress decried it as “political vendetta” and paralysed both Houses of Parliament.
The court hearing the case on Tuesday exempted Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi from personal appearance for a day before asking them to appear in person on December 19.
However, the NDA government, which was looking for support from the Congress for passing the GST bill during this Session, also did not hold back. Senior ministers and party leaders launched a counter offensive on the grand old party, questioning it for the impropriety. “It’s a court order. Congress should answer the allegations in court,” BJP leaders argued.
The relative calm of the Winter Session was broken as Sonia Gandhi led her party MPs to launch a broadside, on a day she returned from the US. “I am daughter in-law of Indira Gandhi, I am not afraid,” she declared, even as Rahul Gandhi “definitely” sees a “political vendetta”.
The BJP was quick to counter it. “Sonia Gandhi is no Indira Gandhi. Someone may be son in-law or daughter in-law of anyone. But they are equal before law,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Congress MPs trouped into the Well in both Houses, shouting “down with dictatorship”, resulting in multiple adjournments before both Houses were adjourned for the day without transacting any business.
Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma alleged, “There is clear abuse of authority... The dirty tricks department is coordinated from the PMO.”
BJP fielded its senior ministers apart from Prasad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and transport minister Nitin Gadkari to attack the Congress. Naidu said that this amounts to onslaught on independence of judiciary.
The massive face-off has only meant that the thaw achieved by PM Narendra Modi at his tea gathering for passing the GST has again turned frosty.
Sources said Naidu spoke to Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Veerappa Moily on Monday asking them for their party’s support. “Both leaders told Naidu that as Sonia was to arrive on Tuesday, they would get back,” a government source told Express. Sources close to the Congress leaders asked, “How can they now expect our support?”