With the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress demanding expulsion of Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh from the House for his alleged derogatory remarks against Dalits, the sense of cordiality between the government and the Opposition has taken a beating. Thursday's proceedings in the House were disrupted, after the Opposition insisted on an apology from the government over its unprovoked targeting of former Union minister Kumari Selja. However, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hoped this would have no bearing on the Congress' stand on the goods and services tax (GST) Bill.
The Opposition joined ranks in the Upper House over BJP's "discriminatory mindset" towards Dalits. First it was Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's attempts to refute Kumari Selja's charges against the discrimination in a temple in Gujarat. Congress MPs stormed the well of the House demanding an apology. It was only after Power Minister Piyush Goyal apologised for his comment of "manufactured discrimination" and the FM made a clarification that the House resumed normal business.
Post lunch, when the House started discussing the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, VK Singh entered the House. Senior BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra shot up and said Singh is "not entitled" to sit in the House as he had "insulted" the House. "You do not know how to address a human being, how to address a Dalit. He is not entitled to sit in the House. He has no right to sit in the House as he has violated the same Constitution, whose oath he took. He should be thrown out. He has yet not apologised," Mishra said.
However, a temporary lull returned during Home Minister Rajnath Singh's reply on the Chennai flood situation.
Finding itself at the receiving end, the government too went hammer and tongs against the Congress. At a press conference, Sitharaman pointed at a recent "notification" by tax authorities of Switzerland to claim that it "reinforced" the charge that Preneet Kaur, a minister in the UPA government, and her son had an undisclosed Swiss bank account. She also demanded the Congress to take action against its chief ministers facing corruption charges, including Kerala CM Oommen Chandy, Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat and Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh.
Sitharaman also alleged that former finance minister P Chidambaram's son Karti was linked to firms accused in the 2G scam cases. She said the recent raids by Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate authorities on certain firms allegedly connected to him were "part of larger 2G inquiry". The minister said Chidambaram, as the finance minister, allowed transactions, including one of Rs 40 crore in cash, between firms connected to the 2G scam because his son had an interest in some of the companies.