Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Thursday lamented that the Bharatiya Janata Party parliamentary party was “under pressure” from various State units to take up their issues in Parliament and get it adjourned to make an impact.
“Often State leaders come to me saying they want Parliament adjourned for four days and I tell them we can do it for one day or two. But how can we stall for four days? They simply do not understand,” Ms. Swaraj told journalists.
She mentioned that earlier this year the party’s Chandigarh unit wanted Parliament to be adjourned “for four days.” She said she told them it could not be done for so many days.
This reporter checked records to find out what actually happened in Parliament. On March 14, 2011, the BJP made allegations against Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal of corruption in the allotment of kiosks in Chandigarh, which he represents in the Lok Sabha. Both Houses were adjourned with Ms. Swaraj leading the charge in the Lok Sabha demanding Mr. Bansal’s resignation. BJP MPs stormed into the well saying “Bansal isteefa do” – Bansal resign – and even prevented Mr. Bansal from replying to the charges inside Parliament.
The Minister later said he would not face Parliament ever if he was found guilty and he was ready to face “any inquiry.” He said the BJP was taking shelter behind laws that granted MPs immunity from prosecution for what they said in Parliament but would “sue them” if they dared to repeat these allegations outside.
The issue was then quietly dropped by the BJP. But not before one day was lost in Parliament.
On Thursday, Ms. Swaraj gave a detailed account of Delhi State unit president Vijender Gupta and other leaders meeting her ahead of a Jantar Mantar rally to demand the ouster of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for her alleged role in the CWG scandal. She told them that the BJP had demanded and agreed to a discussion “on issues arising from the statement [on Commonwealth Games] of Sports Minister Ajay Maken.” Her State unit, she said, “did not understand” parliamentary niceties that under the rules “the CAG report could not have been directly discussed.” The parliamentary party had “stuck to its demand on suspension of Question Hour” and, therefore, stalled Question Hour in both Houses. “We disrupted Question Hour but we had the debate as agreed,” she added.
Confirming that BJP president Nitin Gadkari did attend Tuesday morning’s BJP Parliamentary Party meeting — which he seldom does — she asserted his presence had nothing to do with the BJP decision to stall proceedings. “Some of the disturbances arose out of comments made by members during the debate. These were not planned,” Ms. Swaraj said.
Rejects Brinda’s charge
She rejected the charge made by CPI(M) member of the Rajya Sabha Brinda Karat that stalling proceedings was a “joint operation” of the BJP and the ruling Congress. “If we allow the House to run we are charged with having made a deal with the Congress, and when we stall proceedings the same charge is brought against us.” She, in fact, pointed out that on the joint resolution of prices, the Left party leaders did put their names to the joint resolution in the Rajya Sabha, although in the Lok Sabha it was a different story. “They [the Left] have no coordination or understanding between their leaders in the two Houses and now they are blaming us.” Hindu