NEW DELHI: Nuanced Parliamentary debate can wait. It’s time for allegations and counter-allegations. The BJP launched another attack on the Chief Minister of a Congress-ruled state, Himachal Pradesh, hurling corruption charges against him.
A day after targeting Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat with a sting operation, where his close aide was allegedly seen striking a deal, the BJP said Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh was facing serious charges of corruption. Not only did the BJP demand the CM’s resignation, the ruling party questioned the “silence” of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice- president Rahul Gandhi on the issue.
It was tit-for-tat. As the Congress has been demanding the resignation of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers Vasundhra Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan while questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the allegations against his party colleagues.
Vadra's Facebook Post Triggers a Controversy
By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The war between the BJP and the Opposition engulfed Congress’ president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
As the Congress continued to disrupt the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament demanding the resignation of the BJP Minister and Chief Ministers, the BJP MPs raised the issue of Vadra writing an “offensive” Facebook post demeaning the dignity of Parliament.
A breach of privilege notice has been moved against him in the Lok Sabha, which the Speaker referred to the Privileges Committee led by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia.
The privilege motion was moved by BJP’s Chief Whip Arjun Ram Meghwal. And his notice to the Lok Sabha Secretary General said Vadra’s quote was a “clear case of breach of privilege” and so should be referred to the Privileges Committee for “appropriate decision.” The BJP picked up the issue and raised it in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. As the BJP MPs led by Prahlad Joshi raised the issue in the House, there were violent protests by the Congress MPs.
Sonia Gandhi was seen showing her disapproval and taking the cue from her, Congress MPs intensified their slogan-shouting against the government. The Congress asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan as to why the BJP MPs were allowed to flag placards. Mallikarjun Kharge asked the Speaker to expunge the remarks against Vadra. Amid the din, Speaker adjourned the House.
The BJP dug up the charges, it had levelled against Virbhadra during the 2012 Himachal Assembly elections and later during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls saying the investigations pointed towards wrongdoing.
BJP leader and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted three cases where Virbhadra is alleged to have been favoured financially for passing on a benefit. Prasad alleged that Virbhadra accepted bribe from a hydel power firm Venture Energy and Technology Pvt Ltd for reviving its cancelled project in the state. He said money was routed by the firm through a convoluted process to a company owned by his son and daughter to buy a farm house for over Rs 6.61 cr.
Poster War Rocks Parliament, Leads to House Adjournment
By Yatish Yadav and Devirupa Mitra
NEW DELHI: An unprecedented poster war rocked Parliament on Thursday after members of treasury benches turned up with placards in Lok Sabha to counter similar attempts by Congress MPs, marking a new low in Parliamentary practices and leading to adjournment of the House without transacting any legislative business third day in a row.
Congress MPs and treasury benches flashing placards came face to face, immediately after Lower House re-assembled at 12 noon. To counter the Congress’ “PM break your silence, sack Sushma Swaraj”, BJP MPs raised the pitch with a poster “The thief blaming the cop, those who distributes farmers’ land to son-in-law”.
Another BJP poster read: C”-for Congress, C-for Corruption, Assam-Goa-Watergate”.
Several ruling party members reached to the Well of the House already occupied by the Congress members.
Amid the high- pitched sloganeering, BJP MP from Dharwad Pralhad Joshi’s move to raise privilege issue against Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, added fuel to the fire, forcing adjournment for the day.
Even in the Rajya Sabha, treasury and Opposition Benches stuck to their guns on Lalitgate and Vyapam. The Upper House began with Congress leader Anand Sharma getting up to tell the Chair that they had given a notice for suspension of notice.
As BJP leaders heckled the Opposition Benches, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien pointed out that the notice had been allowed in last two days for a discussion, which was agreed by both government and Opposition.
With the House completely dysfunctional, Kurien adjourned the House till noon. But, even when the House reassembled for Question Hour, the Chair adjourned it within 2 minutes.
Similarly, when Rajya Sabha members restarted the session at 2 pm, the house ‘worked’ for just 8 minutes.
In total, the Upper House was ‘in session’ for just 35 minutes.
Prasad then referred to the curious case of one Anand Chauhan receving Rs five crore in his bank account. Chauhan was using this money to buy LIC policies from Virbhadra and his family. When tax authorities started checking, Virbhadra said Chauhan was given the money as he was caretaker of his apple orchards, a move announced retrospectively in the income tax returns of Virbhadra, the BJP leader alleged.
Virbhadra said, “The BJP is desperately trying to divert the attention of media and people from the questionable conduct of their leaders for which they have no answer.”
Prasad quoting from an IT probe report said, “Investigation so far strongly suggests unaccounted cash and income of Virbhadra has been brought back into regular books of accounts and for buying assets for his family members... and Vakkamulla Chandersekhar has acted as agent and conduit.” Chandersekhar is the promoter of the power firm.
The I-T Department has sent the matter to the Enforcement Directorate to see if a case under PMLA.