Breaking her silence, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said she had not made any request to the British government for issue of travel documents to controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi and asserted that all allegations against her were “baseless and unfounded”.
Sushma Swaraj managed to speak a few sentences in the Rajya Sabha amid slogan-shouting by Congress members seeking fixing of accountability in the Lalitgate and Vyapam scam but could not complete her statement, as Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House till 1200 hours amidst the din.
Seizing on Kurien’s statement that Prime Minister cannot respond unless a discussion as demanded by Anand Sharma (Cong) under Rule 267 by suspending the business is initiated, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley said Swaraj would make a statement to initiate the debate in the absence of unwillingness of the Congress leader to initiate it.
Swaraj said she had conveyed on ‘day one’ through Jaitley that she was ready to respond to all charges being made against her.
The allegations of assisting Lalit Modi are “baseless and unfounded,” she said, adding “I did not make any request to the British government for issue of travel documents to Lalit Modi.”
She wanted to say more but Kurien adjourned the House amid vociferous protests from the Congress members, who moved into the Well the moment Swaraj rose to speak.
The Minister said for two weeks she has been coming to the House every day in the hope of being able to make a statement and clarify on the issue.
Earlier, Anand Sharma (Cong) said the House has been in a stalemate because of the government’s “arrogance”. “This House cannot be in order unless issues have been responded by the Prime Minister on fixing accountability and responsibility.”
Government is not serious, he said demanding a response from the Prime Minister.
Kurien said, “unless you start the discussion, Prime Minister cannot respond.”
This moment was seized upon by Jaitley who said if Sharma was unwilling to initiate a discussion, Swaraj will make a statement to start the discussion.
Congress members trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans seeking resignations of Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in connection with the Lalit Modi controversy and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Vyapam scam.
Earlier, Naresh Agarwal (SP) made a demand for a discussion on the issue of subsidised food consumed by MPs, an issue on which the government readly agreed for initiation of a debate immediately in a apparent bid to get the House, which
has been paralysed since the start of the ongoign Monsoon Session, to function.
He alleged that there was a “conspiracy” to sully the image of MPs by periodically raising of issue of subsidised food consumed by them in Parliament as well as demands like no-work-no-pay for MPs.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said a debate on the issue could be started immediately.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Agarwal had raised a serious issue and since the prestige of House is involved, a discussion can start immediately.
Kurien said since there was no motion for discussion, he cannot allow it.