New Delhi(PTI):The Congress on Monday created a storm in Parliament and disrupted proceedings over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charge at a poll rally that an Italian court had named Sonia Gandhi in AgustaWestland chopper bribery case.
The Rajya Sabha saw four adjournments in the first two hours because of the continued uproar and sloganeering by the Congress members, leading to washout of the Zero Hour and Question Hour.
“Narendra Modi maafi mange. ‘Feku’ Mama maafi maange (Narendra Modi should apologise. Bluffmaster should apologise),” shouted members of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, which failed to transact any business except one question during the Question Hour.
In the Lok Sabha too, the issue generated heat soon after it assembled for the day with Congress members raising the matter.
The Congress questioned how the Prime Minister could make such allegations when Defence Minister had not stated this in his reply to debates on the controversy in both the Houses last week.
The opposition party wanted to know which court Mr. Modi was quoting. “Pradhan Mantri House mein aao (Prime Minister should come to the House)” and reply, the Congress members chanted.
In Rajya Sabha, they demanded an apology from the Prime Minister, forcing Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings of the House twice during Zero Hour, first for 10 minutes and then again till 1200 hours.
Again when the House met at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari’s pleas to allow the Question Hour to function did not evoke any positive response as the Congress members created pandemonium and raised slogans against the Prime Minister.
At one point, an Mr. Ansari remarked: “It is not becoming of the House. Do not do that. Allow the question hour to take place.”
In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge was heard saying that the Prime Minister’s comments could influence the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which are investigating the alleged kickbacks in the Rs. 3600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.
Asking “which court has indicted” Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Kharge said it was a serious issue and the party might be forced to move Privilege Motion against the Prime Minister.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong.) said no member in the Lower House or the Upper House, during the debate on AgustaWestland deal, said the UPA leadership had taken money.
Maintaining that the Congress had demanded stringent action against any leader or officer found guilty in the case, he said Mr. Modi had during poll rallies in Kerala and Tamil Nadu claimed that it was not his statement but an Italian court has said that Ms. Gandhi was guilty in the case.
He asked why Mr. Modi did not intervene in the debates on the issue in either of the House to say this.
Mr. Azad noted that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had not named any UPA leader in his reply and the charge was being used to tarnish the image of the Congress and its leadership.
The CBI, which is conducting an inquiry in the case, falls directly under the Prime Minister, he said and asked will the investigating agency not be influenced by such statements.
Anand Sharma (Cong.) said the Prime Minister should come to the House and substantiate the statement he has made.
Mr. Kurien said what is being attributed to the Prime Minister was said outside the House and the Congress can reply to that outside as well. “The Chair cannot take cognizance of it,” he said, adding “I cannot do anything.”
As Mr. Kurien ruled out Mr. Sharma’s notice under rule 267 to suspend business to take up the issue, Congress members trooped in the Well raising slogans against the PM.
“Is Chair responsible for political speeches,” he asked.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said while no one guilty in the deal will be spared, no innocent will be touched.
As the Congress members shouted slogans against Prime Minister, Mr. Naqvi asked Chair to rein them in saying the BJP was also capable of shouting slogans.
According to him, Mr. Modi had said “what the world is talking and what the Italian court has said.”
He noted that Mr. Modi had not made any policy announcement outside the House and so has not violated any rule.
“It was an election rally speech,” he said, adding that no one who has taken bribe will be spared and the Congress members’ demand will be taken care of.
Mr. Sharma asked if the Prime Minister was pre-empting the CBI investigation since the probe agency comes under him.
Mr. Modi, he said, has made a statement which contradicts what the Defence Minister had said on the floor of the House.
He went on to state that Prime Minister’s statement was violative of norms and dignity of the House.
Mr. Kurien, however, said the Chair cannot ask the Prime Minister to come and make a statement on the issue.