New Delhi : The Rajya Sabha was stalled on Friday as opposition parties led by the Congress demanded the resignation of union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari for alleged irregularities in a company owned by him.
A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has named Gadkari as one of the “promoters and/or directors” of Purti Sakhar Karkhana Ltd (PSKL) that was sanctioned a loan of Rs.84.12 crore by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency in violation of guidelines.
Apart from a few zero hour mentions, and the routine tabling of papers, the house could not take up any business – not even the private members’ business scheduled for the day.
It faced several adjournments before being finally adjourned for the day at 3.30 p.m., as the opposition demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma slammed the ruling BJP, saying when they were in opposition they disrupted the house several times over allegations of corruption.
“The prime minister has to come to the house… We will not accept anything else. He goes all over the world abusing and vilifying all his predecessors. We will ensure accountability,” Sharma said.
“He goes as the prime minister, on the expenditure of public exchequer and then becomes a ‘pracharak’ for his party,” he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government is ready for a discussion while Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien urged members to follow procedures and give a notice. But the opposition refused to relent.
Congress members trooped near the chairman’s podium several times through the day and shouted slogans demanding Gadkari’s resignation.
The war of words between the ruling and the opposition benches continued.
Minister Naqvi slammed the Congress for making “baseless allegations”. “We have said we have zero tolerance for corruption… We are ready to discuss corruption, the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) will examine the CAG report.”
“The allegations are baseless, we have the CAG report,” he added.
The issue was raised earlier in the day by Congress MP Shantaram Naik, who said the minister must resign.
“Opposition parties demanded resignation of our ministers time to time… now Nitin Gadkari has to resign,” said Naik.
He said the CAG has found that PSKL did not comply with the conditions for interest subsidy which stipulated that the renewable energy project was to operate for a minimum of 10 years after its completion.
The upper house saw two adjournments during zero hour and three during question hour when Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 2.30 p.m., unable to take up a single question.
At 2.30 p.m., the protests continued and the house saw another hour-long adjournment before being adjourned for the day a little after it reassembled at 3.30 p.m.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, speaking on the issue earlier, said: “This is not a question of allegation against a member. It is a CAG report… Based on CAG reports number of heads have rolled earlier.”
“The BJP government inside and outside the house is talking about transparency and corruption. Also in the same breath it is talking about stains (of corruption) during UPA government.
“Here there is a proven case against a minister who had to resign because of the same reason as president of BJP… the party may maintain he did not resign… He has been indicted he cannot continue as minister even for a day,” said Azad.