Congress not keen on debate over Lalit Modi, says government

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The government on Tuesday accused the Congress of not being keen on a debate over its allegations about BJP leaders’ links with former IPL chief Lalit Modi as the first day of the monsoon session of parliament saw several adjournments on the issue in the Rajya Sabha.

The adjournments came even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi hoped that the session will be fruitful and witness many good decisions.

Modi, who briefly addressed the media ahead of the session, said Monday’s all-party meeting was held in an excellent atmosphere.

He said it has been a constant effort of his government that decisions to take the country forward were taken collectively.

“During the last session, some political parties had assured that work would be done on priority basis in this session. Hence, I am hopeful that good decisions will be taken in the session and more decisions will be taken. And parliament will function as a medium for fruitful discussions as per the hopes and expectations of the nation,” he said.

Modi said he was grateful to all parliamentarians for their support.

“Today, this session begins with the faith that the best contribution of the MPs will continue,” he said.

While the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day following obituary reference to Dileep Singh Bhuria of the BJP, a sitting member who died in the inter-session period, the Rajya Sabha saw three adjournments before lunch.

Raising the Lalit Modi controversy in the upper house, Congress member Anand Sharma said the government promised transparency in its functioning but the promise has been broken.

The party demanded a discussion and suspension of the scheduled business for the day.

“There are 14 FIRs by the Enforcement Directorate against him (Lalit Modi). Governments change but laws do not,” Sharma said.

The Congress leader alleged that the travel documents, granted to Modi for attending to his wife during her cancer treatment, were being used by him for “tourism”.

Responding to Sharma, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley asked the Opposition to start the debate.

“Start the discussion, (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj (who had facilitated the travel documents) will reply,” Jaitley said.

However, Opposition members created a ruckus and the house was adjourned till noon.

When the Rajya Sabha re-assembled at noon, the scene was similar, forcing another adjournment till 12.30 p.m. and then till 2 p.m.

Sushma Swaraj also conveyed her willingness for an immediate debate.

“I am ready for a debate today itself. I asked Arun Jaitley to convey this to the Rajya Sabha,” the minister said in a tweet.

“Arun Jaitley has conveyed this to the house. We are looking forward to the Opposition’s response,” she added.

Talking to reporters, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress was trying to defame the government.

He said there was no immoral act by any minister.

“The Congress is trying to defame the government. That’s why they are not willing for a debate,” Naidu said, adding that there was no substitute to healthy debate in a democracy.

Before being adjourned for the day, the Lok Sabha also paid tributes to former members Sheila Kaul, Ismail Hussain, Denzil B. Atkinson and Shehrao Deshmukh.

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