Sushma, Rahul try to outwit each other in fiery LS debate

Sushma, Rahul try to outwit each other in fiery LS debate

After 14 days of stalemate over the Congress’s demand seeking resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi obtain travel papers from the UK, a debate finally took place in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

But the tone and tenor saw Sushma and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi locked in a no-holds barred duel, freely trading serious charges of corruption against each other's family. 

If Sushma talked about the Bofors scandal and the Gandhi family’s proximity to late Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was believed to be a conduit for pay-offs, Rahul minced no words either.

He said: “Lalit Modi is a symbol of black money in India. Lalit Modi pays Sushma Swaraj's family.”

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi choosing to stay away from House, Finance Minister Arjun Jaitley wrapped up the government’s contentions, before the House negated the adjournment motion moved by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the wordings of which was a point of intense dispute, particularly about naming of the disgraced IPL chief or using term like “Lalitgate.”

An exasperated Speaker Sumitra Mahajan ticked off the MPs from both sides several times to restore order and show she was impartial when it came to applying House rules.
“The government rejects all the charges, the question of Sushma Swaraj’s resignation does not arise,” said Jaitley, bringing to close the issue that had paralysed the entire Monsoon session.

“The case against him was registered under Foreign Exchange Maintenance Act but action was made to appear having been done under the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It is only now that our government has issued a red-corner notice against him for a Chennai case lying dormant since 2012,” said Jaitley.

Sushma also responded to Rahul’s charge, that she got money to help Lalit Modi, by telling him to read up on his family history and then ask his “mamma” (Sonia Gandhi) as to “how much money had been taken from Quattrocchi” and “why did daddy (Rajiv Gandhi)” release the killer of 15,000 people (Bhopal gas tragedy).

Attacking former finance minister P Chidambaram, Sushma said: “No quid pro quo unlike a conflict of interest in former finance minister P Chidambaram’s case. He was the finance minister when his wife Nalini Chidambaram was the lawyer in the Saradha chit fund scam case, whose file was with his ministry. My daughter did not earn even a rupee from Lalit Modi on the passport case. She was appearing with her senior, she was a junior, that too at number nine.”

A livid Rahul hit back: “Yesterday (Tuesday), Sushmaji held my hand and said Beta (son), why are you upset with me? What did I do? I said I respect you and looked you in the eye and said I am speaking the truth. You looked down.”

Jaitley also slammed Rahul for questioning the role of Sushma’s daughter.

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