NEW DELHI: A slanging match started between the government and the Congress which accused the Centre of misleading the country over the death of 39 Indian hostages in Iraq. As the Congress and other parties disrupted both Houses of Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar blamed the Opposition for not letting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj make a statement in the Lok Sabha after she spoke in the Rajya Sabha.
“You don’t have any feelings,” a miffed Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the protesting members.
As the news broke out, Congress leaders from Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shashi Tharoor to former Punjab unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa, who had raised the issue several times in the Rajya Sabha, questioned the delay in announcing the deaths.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused Sushma of misleading Parliament and the affected families seven times over the past four years.
He said the Centre made the announcement in a hurry as it panicked after the Martyrs Foundation in Iraq said it will hold a media briefing on the issue.“The Modi government was insensitive and inhuman to have repeatedly raised the hopes of these families, only to dash them later. Why is the government now evading crucial questions on the tragedy,” said Surjewala.
“The Modi government has passed all limits of heartlessness, when the whole world was saying they have died, the Centre assured the country and the kin seven times that they are alive,” he said.Surjewala said the statement on Iraq hostages came at time when the government was under immense pressure over the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP and the TRS in Parliament.
Both Azad and Scindia accused the government of not being interested in running Parliament and alleged the BJP wanted to avoid facing the Opposition’s questions on the PNB fraud and the genuine demands of the people of Andhra Pradesh.
In Punjab, leaders across party lines demanded financial assistance for the families who lost their kin in Iraq. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the External Affairs Minister to provide all necessary assistance to the tragedy-hit families. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal expressed his condolence to the families.
(With inputs from Harpreet Bajwa)
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