Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday once again accused external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM of taking black money from tainted IPL founder Lalit Modi and challenged Prime Minister Modi not to be afraid in speaking his “Man ki baat.”
Amidst protests from the BJP benches throughout his speech, Rahul insisted that the crux of the issue is the “black money” and the Congress is egging on the PM to respond to the demand for resignations of Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan by breaking his silence in tune with his promise to the nation after winning the elections that “na khaunga, na khane dunga” (won’t take bribe or allowed anyone take bribe). He even went to the extent of asserting that “PM does not have guts to sit in the House.”
The entire Opposition, led by the Congress, walked out in protest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi not coming to the House to reply to the day-long debate on the adjournment motion and instead the government fielded Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to reply. He rejected the charges levelled by them as totally baseless and ruled out resignation of Sushma Swaraj. Since Congress group leader Mallikarjun Kharge had led the walkout, the Speaker took vote on the adjournment motion he had piloted and the same was rejected overwhelmingly by the voice vote.
On Rahul’s black money barb, Jaitley said: “What steps did your government take to bring back money. You did nothing. Every step was taken by us.”
Rahul described the Indian Premier League (IPL) as the centre of black money in India and dubbed its founder Lalit Modi as swindler, challenging Sushma Swaraj once again to disclose how much her family got from Lalit Modi and was it not in black money. He wanted to know if she had helped Lalit Modi with the knowledge of the PM.
Dismissing Sushma’s claim in the House that her daughter got no money as a junior lawyer of Lalit Modi nor her lawyer husband were involved in his passport case, Rahul insisted that her family was looking after the legal affairs of the fugitive and that cannot be without any exchange of money. On her claim of helping Lalit Modi on “humanitarian grounds,” he taunted that she is perhaps the first person to be secretive (chhupkar) in the humanitarian acts.
On Jaitley dismissing the financial dealings between Lalit Modi and the Rajasthan CM’s MP son Dushyant Singh as “commercial transactions,” Rahul said it certainly benefitted Vasundhara and her son but he wants to know what benefit they gave in return to Lalit Modi.
In his reply to the debate, Jaitley tore apart Rahul’s contentions, saying he wants to be an expert but without knowledge. On Rahul’s taunt that Narendra Modi has overturned story of Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys by adopting “not to see the truth, nor to hear the truth nor speak the truth,” Jaitley urged him: “Please do not make money of this country.”
He also reminded Rahul that his explanation of the “commercial transaction” of the Raje family tallies with the same interpretation given by then Congress finance minister P Chidambaram on the loan received by his brother-in-law (Robert Vadra). Noting that a court had declared the Dholpur palace as the property of Dushyant Singh, son of Vasundhara Raje, Jaitley said the Congress was conducting as if it were the Supreme Court dismissing the court’s award. He chided the Congress for discussing allegations against Vasundhara Raje and her son despite it not being a part of the motion.
Jaitley reiterated the charge he has been leveling on the Congress since last week that it is using Sushma Swaraj only as a pretext to prevent passage of the GST Bill. “You somehow what to sabotage the growth story,” he said, noting that the Congress is scared of the economic progress made by India since the Modi government took charge.
In a dig at Rahul without naming him, Jaitley described Sushma Swaraj as one of the honest families whose children work for living and said there are, however, families who live for generations without working to earn.