Government makes first dent in Opposition ranks, Mulayam Singh Yadav not for Sushma Swaraj’s removal

New Delhi,Iftikhar Gilani: Barely 24 hours after a combative Opposition took on the government on the issues of Lalitgate and Vyapam scam, first signs of cracks appeared within its ranks. Both the Houses, however, had to be adjourned on the second day of the monsoon session, without transacting any business.

In a battle of wits and nerves, while the top Congress leaders were scoffing at media for concocting stories on the party’s isolation, the dent came in the form of Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, distancing himself from demanding resignation of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. The Congress, on the other side, succeeded in getting another unpredictable Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on its side, with its supremo Mayawati targeting Vasundhara Raje over the Vyapam scam. Trinamool Congress (TMC) also joined Opposition ranks in pushing an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on these issues.

Mulayam said that for a woman, “sau khoon maaf (100 murders would be forgiven).” “Why are all of you hounding one woman?” he asked reporters. He made it clear that Swaraj was not his main target in the monsoon session. His deputy Naresh Aggarwal, further clarified that Vasundhara Raje and Chouhan must be removed, but the party does not favour removal of Swaraj for helping Lalit Modi obtain travel papers in UK. “Politicians can’t be asked to step down on the basis of some recommendations they make,” he said.

Analysts say either the old socialist connection of Sushma Swaraj or the government showing some bait to the Mulayam behind the scenes worked. The BJP is now focusing to get TMC, AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to mellow down, in order to isolate Congress and prevent the complete washout of the monsoon session of Parliament.

Snubbing Jaitley for demanding immediate discussion on Swaraj to let her respond, Sitaram Yechuri said discussion is no substitute to investigation that can not be impartial unless all tainted step down. An elated Congress president Sonia Gandhi put off the planned “silent protest” under Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Parliament House in the morning as she felt it should be a joint protest by all Opposition parties. The Congress MPs, barring Sonia, turned up in the Lok Sabha wearing black arm band as mark of protest.

In a related development, Swaraj, who had adopted a low profile on Twitter since after the Lalitgate scam hit headlines, on Wednesday said: “A senior Congress leader was pressing me hard to give diplomatic passport to the Coal scam accused Santosh Bagrodia”.

In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan threatened disciplinary action against a score of the Congress members for displaying placards. Much to her embarrassment, they, along with members of other parties, rather trooped into the House, challenging her to take action. She asked staff to note down names of those in well or waiving placards in violation of the rules. No surprise if the government pilots a motion on Thursday to suspend all protesters.