In a scathing attack on the government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of retreating into “deafening silence” on the “blatant transgressions” of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and two chief ministers.
In a clear message, Sonia declared that the Congress would not cooperate with the government in running the Parliament so long as Swaraj, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan are not sacked.
She said the prime minister has never missed an opportunity to take a moral high ground on transparency, integrity and accountability, but has retreated into a “silence mode” when it came to “blatant transgressions” by Swaraj and the two chief ministers.
“Our stand is straightforward and clear from day one. There is a mountain of incontrovertible evidence in public domain for the prime minister to require the resignations of the external affairs minister and the two chief ministers,” she said, virtually sealing the fate of the ongoing monsoon session.
Referring to the government’s repeated references to its “numerical strength”, Sonia said Parliamentary majority did not give anyone the license to “evade accountability.”
The Congress has been demanding the resignations of Swaraj and Raje for their alleged involvement in facilitating travel documents for former IPL boss Lalit Modi and Chouhan for the Vyapam scandal. Seeking to justify the Congress pitch for ‘resign first, debate later’ approach, she wondered whether the BJP has forgotten that it was the “author of the principle which it has used on at least five different occasions since 1993”.
“Yesterday’s agitators in both the Houses have suddenly become today’s champions of debate and discussion,” Sonia said pointing out that those who advocated disruption as a legitimate tactic were giving the Congress “sermons on parliamentary behaviour”.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed Sonia’s charges and said those rejected by the electorate did not want a popularly elected government to discharge its mandate.
“A small minority should not hold the House to ransom and obstruct the proceedings,” Jaitley said.
A couple of hours later, the Congress articulated similar position at the all party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to break the two-week logjam in Parliament.
Sonia said the Congress wanted Parliament to function but was “forced” to resort to disruptions because of the government’s completely brazen attitude.