Sushma says Sonia Gandhi undemocratic, BJP to 'boycott' meetings

FPSushma Swaraj

The already tense relationship between the government and the main opposition party lurched sharply to the brink of total breakdown Tuesday after Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj accused UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi of "instigating" the treasury benches to disrupt her speech, and announced that the BJP would not attend any meeting convened by either the Speaker or the parliamentary affairs minister for the rest of the session.

The Congress president has "no faith in parliamentary traditions" and "no respect for democratic institutions", she said in an extraordinary attack on Sonia.

Swaraj said the Congress had violated the understanding reached at the meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar on Monday that she (Swaraj) would be allowed to speak before BJP members walked out to facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill, Appropriations Bill, Railway Budget and Demands for Grants.

"Barely two minutes after I started speaking, the Congress president got into action. She incited ministers and her party members to disturb my speech. Strangely, the parliamentary affairs minister was at the forefront. With utmost pain I observed that the Speaker instead of controlling the ruling side, started telling me to wind up. Even she did not protect me," Swaraj said.

"With all responsibility, it is my allegation that the UPA chairperson has no faith in India's parliamentary traditions and no respect for democratic institutions." That was why, she alleged, Congress leaders were denigrating all democratic institutions, be it the CAG, PAC, JPC, CBI or Supreme Court. "In Parliament, they don't allow the Opposition to speak," Swaraj said.

"Whatever is decided in BAC is not implemented, but whatever Sonia Gandhi decides takes place. It has become clear that what Sonia Gandhi wants will happen in the House."

Swaraj declared that the BJP "will neither attend meetings convened by the Speaker nor participate in any talks with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath" for the rest of the session.

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