It’s skeletons versus skeletons but no sign of end to House logjam

New Delhi,Amita Shah: External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s tweet that a senior Congress leader was pressing her to give diplomatic passport to the party’s coal scam accused leader Santosh Bagrodia had set the tone for the BJP’s strategy on Wednesday.

BJP, in a message to Congress that people living in glass houses should not throw stones at others, went about getting back at it, inside and outside Parliament.

At the BJP headquarters, union minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference in which she accused Congress’s Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat and his personal secretary of being involved in a liquor scam and loot during the 2013 floods in the state. The BJP, which has demanded Rawat’s resignation, played a sting video allegedly showing his aide negotiating with unknown private players.

While Rawat has denied the charges, Congress said the aide Mohammad Shahid has been asked to go and an investigation would be conducted. The Congress has been demanding that BJP leaders facing the heat in the Lalit Modi controversy or Vyapam scam– external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan– step down and a probe be ordered before the issue is debated in Parliament.

The BJP also raised the issue of chargesheet filed against former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister PK Thungon of Congress over a 1998 corruption case.

While BJP pursued its strategy of pulling out more skeletons from Congress cupboards, the Opposition party threatened to dig out “skeletons the size of elephants and camels” from the ruling party’s cupboard.

“Neither is Congress scaling down the issue nor hitting below the belt, the way BJP is trying to do. They made our ministers resign on frivolous charges. This has set the trend– first resignation and then discussion,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

He said that to divert attention from big issues, BJP was trying to raise Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh matters. “The ruling party can’t blackmail and threaten opposition….If BJP continues with this, then it should be ready to face issues of NDA days. We can dig Skeltons the size of elephants and camels from their cupboard,” he said.

In Lok Sabha, BJP MPs gave notices for discussions on scams involving Congress leaders.

At the meeting of BJP parliamentary party, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah were present, a booklet “Saga of Scams in Congress ruled states” compiling newspaper reports was distributed to MPs. Swaraj, who gave an extempore speech for 15 minutes, defended herself in the Lalit Modi case and Chouhan in the Vyapam scam saying they had done nothing wrong. She said that before Opposition demanded resignation, it should say what wrong she had done and how it constituted quid pro quo or conflict of interest. Swaraj said she was ready for a debate in Parliament and that she would take on the Opposition and tell what quid pro quo meant.

While the BJP’s combative approach could further taint an already blemished Congress, which has faced the public ire for corruption under the UPA regime in elections, the government has so far failed to mitigate the Opposition belligerence in Parliament.