First day of Monsoon Session of Parliament washed out

The first day of Rajya Sabha's Monsoon session on Tuesday was a washout as opposition aggressively pressed for resignation of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as also Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh over various controversies.

The Upper House of Parliament was a scene of confrontation between the ruling and opposition sides, witnessing repeated adjournments with Congress members trooping into the Well of the House to press their demand which was supported by parties like CPI(M) and Samajwadi Party.

Congress leader Anand Sharma questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversies, while pointing out that he had promised to ensure transparency, accountability in governance and acting against those indulging in corrupt practices.

The government kept saying that it was ready for a discussion on all issues, including the row related to Lalit Modi in which Swaraj and Raje are under attack but the opposition insisted on resignations before any debate could be taken up in the House.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said "a discussion cannot be a substitute for an investigation. We want investigation." 

Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while slamming the opposition's attitude, also said that Swaraj will make a statement on the issue immediately after a discussion starts.

The ruling side accused the opposition of "running away" from a debate, with Jaitley saying they were interested in disturbance and not debate.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked Congress for demanding resignations of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, saying if discussion on state issues is allowed, then Robert Vadra's land deal and CBI's probe against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh could also be discussed.

Then issues related to Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was investigated in Bofors scam, and the help given to Warren Anderson, an accused in Bhopal gass tragedy, by then Congress government can also be discussed, he said. 

"Congress cannot make reckless allegations and throw well-settled parliamentary traditions to the wind," Prasad said while addressing a press conference.

Trouble started in Rajya Sabha as soon as it met for the day and obituary references were made, with Anand Sharma of Congress raising the matter related to Lalit Modi controversy and demanded a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Swaraj and Raje are under attack for their links with Lalit Modi, the former IPL Chairman who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case.

Sharma asked why Swaraj had requested British government to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi two and a half months after NDA came to power in June last year.

Sharma also raised the issue of affidavit signed by Raje favouring Lalit Modi.

"The Prime Minister had assured to ensure transparency, 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.

Congress was joined by CPI(M) and Samajwadi Party in its demand for resignations, leading to uproar and five adjournments till 3 PM, when the House was adjourned for the day.

In the midst of pandemonium, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley withdrew the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, over which the government had issued an Ordinance in June.

Lok Sabha was adjourned immediately after it met for the day as a mark of tribute to a sitting member who passed away recently.

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