Uproar over Lalit Modi issue disrupts RS proceedings

New Delhi: Disruptions marred the proceedings in Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Monsoon session today, with Opposition Congress adamant on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s resignation over Lalit Modi controversy and BJP accusing it of “running away” from a debate on it.

Leading the opposition protests, Congress members forced three adjournaments in the pre-lunch session making both Question Hour and Zero Hour a casualty, even as Leader of the House Arun Jaitley offered an immediate discussion and said Swaraj could make a statement on the issue.

“Please start a discussion immediately. You don’t want a discussion…. You don’t have to press your case for a discussion. I am making an offer and would suggest … if they want to start a discussion, then start it immediately. If they want a statement from the External Affairs Minister, we are ready for it. Sushma Swaraj will make a statement within five minutes,” Jaitley said.

However, his pleadings went unheeded and Congress members continued to create an uproar, as Chairman Hamid Ansari urged the members to allow the Question Hour to function. Amid the uproar, Ansari was forced to adjourn the House till 2 PM.

As soon as the House assembled in the morning, Congress members were on their feet targetting the government on the matter and raising questions over its “probity”. They reminded the ruling dispensation of the assurances given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.

Raising the matter soon after the obituary references, Anand Sharma (Cong) demanded a reply from the Prime Minister. He asked why the External Affairs Minister requested British government to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi within in two and half months of NDA coming to power.
Sharma also raised the issue of affidavit signed by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje favouring Lalit Modi.

“The Prime Minister had assured to ensure transparecy, accountability in governance and acting against those indulging in corrupt practices… Where is the probity left? You have violated the dignity,” he said.

Amid objections from the treasury benches to his remarks, Congress members trooped into the Well of the House and raising slogans for her removal. Sharma also questioned the “humanitarian grounds” on which Britain was requested to issue the travel documents to Lalit Modi, alleging that the former IPL chief was travelling around the world as if “on a pleasure trip and as a tourist”.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury also urged the Chair to allow him and others to speak on the issue as Sharma has already been allowed.

Yechury said, “we have given notice. Leaders of Congress party have spoken. We should also be allowed to speak on the issue.”

As Congress members continued the uproar during the Question Hour that started at 12 pm, Jaitley asked the members to start the discussion right away.

Naresh Agarwal (SP) also sought time to speak on the issue, saying he has given notice. He was disallowed.

Asking members to allow the Question Hour to function, Chairman Hamid Ansari said, “I will not allow anything else”.

However, the uproar continued and the House was adjourned till 2 PM.