Sushma hits back at Cong, targets Rajiv Gandhi

Last Updated 12 August 2015, 12:17 IST
In a spirited fight back, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today tore into Congress, saying it had helped Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi and Bhopal gas leak accused Warren Anderson flee from India and roped in Rajiv Gandhi in this regard.

Making a statement in Lok Sabha, she specifically responded to Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's charge that she had got money to help Lalit Modi by telling him to ask his "mamma" as to "how much money had been taken from Quattrocchi" and "why did 'daddy' (Rajiv Gandhi) get released the killer of 15,000 people (in Bhopal gas leak)," an apparent reference to Anderson.

Swaraj, who has been battling demands for her resignation over alleged 'quid pro quo' in relation to Lalit Modi, said, "this is called quid pro quo... Rahul should ask (his mother), why they did the quid pro quo" with regard to Quattrocchi and Anderson.

While she spoke amid slogan-shouting by Congress members, Sonia Gandhi was seen listening to the speech in rapt attention using headphone.

Swaraj also targeted former Union Minister P Chidambaram, saying he had failed to bring back Lalit Modi from United Kingdom as he did not try for his extradition as suggested by the host government and confined his requests to deportation.

"For four years, you (Congress government) did nothing. You remained inactive. There was no effort for extradition. You are asking me how he (Lalit Modi) got right of residency (in UK). He got it during your time. Whatever happened, it was during your tenure," she told the Congress.

Swaraj, who spoke after Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge during a discussion on Lalit Modi issue, said it was only after Arun Jaitley took over as the Finance Minister that things have started moving on bringing back the former IPL boss.

The Minister also rejected the opposition charge that her husband and daughter had fought Lalit Modi's legal case. She said her husband was not a lawyer for Modi in the passport case as alleged and that her daughter was the 9th lawyer in the list of advocates for Lalit Modi and got "not even a rupee".

"Why should anybody give money to a junior lawyer who is 9th in the seniority row," she asked.

Prompted by Jaitley, Swaraj said her daughter had appeared with her seniors in the case.

While targeting Chidambaram, she said Congress was divided on bringing back Lalit Modi and the then Finance Minister was "alone" in his party in wanting action against him due to his "personal enmity".

Swaraj said while Chidambaram wrote to his British counterpart, the Chancellor of Exchequer, seeking his deportation, he never pressed for extradition as suggested by the UK government. Chidambaram had not even kept the External Affairs Ministry in the loop, she said.

When Swaraj started participating in the debate, it was opposed by Congress members who rushed into the Well. As they started raising slogans, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Swaraj was free to 'intervene' as a member of BJP.

Parliamentary Affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will reply to the debate, Swaraj was free to speak.

"Kharge attacked Swaraj for one hour. Now he should listen to her. Are questions posed by you to her so hollow?" quipped Jaitley.
(Published 12 August 2015, 12:15 IST)

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