New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha witnessed ruckus throughout Wednesday stalling business as the opposition pressed for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
The Congress, the main opposition in the upper house, said it had submitted a notice under Rule 169, with its leader Ghulam Nabi Azad saying it wanted “action” and not just a discussion.
The opposition appeared united in the attack. Congress members also trooped near the chairman’s podium shouting slogans demanding the sacking of Sushma Swaraj. Party leader V. Hanumantha Rao even held a placard.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, who submitted the notice, said: “I have not asked for discussion… My motion is for suspension of business to discuss the prime minister’s response to the demand for fixing accountability for a union minister having clandestinely facilitated British travel documents (for Lalit Modi).”
The comment came in the post-lunch session, after the earlier sitting had been marred by disruptions.
The response from the treasury benches was equally aggressive, with a furious house leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accusing the opposition of not wanting a debate and only being interested in making noise.
Jaitley “dared” the opposition to start a debate on the issue.
“Pomposity without fact is not acceptable… I dare you to start a discussion. You don’t have any facts, so you want to make noise,” he said.
While the government insisted that the discussion on controversy around Sushma Swaraj allegedly helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi can be taken up immediately, it ruled out discussion over the Vyapam recruitment scam or the Rajasthan chief minister, saying they were state matters.
The opposition insisted that issues surrounding both chief ministers involved national interest.
“If a chief minister has given an affidavit in a foreign court, is it a state subject?” Congress leader Anand Sharma asked.
Earlier, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said: “Vyapam is not a state issue, it is a national issue.”
Similarly, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury also said since the deaths in Vyapam scam have taken place outside Madhya Pradesh as well, it is no more a state issue.
The government refused to change its stand.
“If the opposition wants to change the rules and discuss state issues, we are ready. We will raise all state issues ranging from what is happening in Kerala and Himachal Pradesh. Assam and Goa will also be discussed,” said Jaitley.
“How much cash has your chief minister of Himachal Pradesh deposited in banks? Are you willing to discuss that?” he asked.
The treasury benched also made it clear that there will be no resignations.
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said he and BJP leader L.K. Advani had resigned following hawala charges, suggesting that Sushma Swaraj must follow suit.
Yechury meanwhile said a discussion cannot replace investigation and hence there can’t be a debate without the ministers concerned resigning.
“The job of parliament is to make the government accountable. Discussion is not a substitute to investigation. Till a investigation is ordered and concerned people step down, there can’t be discussion.”
Jaitley demanded to know which legal provision had Sushma Swaraj broken for an investigation to take place.
The upper house saw several adjournments between 11 a.m. to 12 noon.
At noon, as Chairman M. Hamid Ansari tried to take up the question hour, the ruckus continued, forcing an adjournment for half hour first and then till 2 p.m.
When the house met post lunch, the disagreement continued. After Congress members trooped towards the chairman’s podium raising slogans, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the house for the day.