Debate on CWG generates heat, parliament forced to adjourn (Roundup)

August 9th, 2011 - 11:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) The ruling Congress Tuesday found itself cornered in parliament over the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) scam with opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) directly accusing United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in appointment and perpetuation of Suresh Kalmadi as the CWG Organising Committee chairman.

During a high decibel debate in parliament, BJP’s Yashwant Sinha in the Lok Sabha and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley tore into the Congress’s defence of the UPA government on the CWG scam in the aftermath of the indictment by a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report last week.

Sinha, who spoke in the Lok Sabha during a debate on Sports Minister Ajay Maken’s statement on the Commonwealth Games (CWG), quoted confidential letters written by former ministers late Sunil Dutt and Mani Shankar Aiyer to lay the blame for Kalmadi’s appointment at the door of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, saying it happened with their direct approval.

“If the UPA government dares, let it deny the existence of these letters,” Sinha said in his 40-minute combative address.

Jaitley too read from confidential letters from Aiyer and Kalmadi to the Prime Minister’s Office and the comments of Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati to say the appointment took place due to the direct intervention of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

Maken had in his suo-moto statement Aug 2 in both houses of parliament said that the appointment of Kalmadi as CWG Organising Committee chief was a fait accompli left behind by the previous National Democratic Alliance government that signed a bid contract with the CWG Federation in 2003.

The Left parties, which participated in the discussion in both houses, targeted Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and sought her resignation forthwith for the CAG indictment for time and cost overruns in the CWG projects. “Dikshit should resign forthwith,” Left leader Basudeb Acharia said in the Lok Sabha.

Sinha, leading the charge, accused the UPA government of trying to weaken all constitutional institutions while in power.

“They are out to destroy every institution of the country,” he said, referring to the Congress’s attack on the CAG for its CWG report and the party’s actions in the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that considered the 2G spetrum row.

Sinha also accused the Congress of “adopting the strategy” of diverting attention from issues that were inconvenient to them, stating this was the reason for the ruling party targeting BJP leader V.K. Malhotra for Kalmadi’s appointment.

“The PMO knew everything and yet it remained silent. Even the then Minister of State in the PMO, Prithviraj Chavan, the now Maharashtra chief minister, had told Aiyar that there was hanky-panky in CWG expenses,” he said.

“Not only Kalmadi, but the entire party is guilty,” Sinha remarked, forcing the treasury benches on its toes in protest.

“If, as you say, NDA had appointed Kalmadi, then who stopped you from removing him?” asked Sinha.

He said Aiyer had pointed out to the profligacy in the CWG expenditure, but was over-ruled by then finance minister P. Chidambaram.

In the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley let the attack, laying similar charges against the UPA government and its leadership.

Accusing Ajay Maken of keeping facts from parliament, Jaitley said his statement concealed more than it revealed.

The Congress, represented by its Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari, attacked the BJP, charging it with forcing Kalmadi as the CWG Organising Committee chairman on the subsequent UPA governments.

“This demand for the Delhi chief minister’s resignation from BJP is a tit-for-tat for the sacrifice they had to make in Karnataka where Yeddyurappa had to resign as chief minister over the Lokyukta report on mining,” he said.

He also said the CAG could only audit government accounts and could not comment on the PMO’s policy decisions and appointments.

“Is CAG report the gospel truth? If yes, then why do we have the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to examine the CAG? We should abolish the PAC then,” Tewari said.

“Therefore, there is a need to be on the side of caution. Please do not give away your (parliamentary) responsibilities into the hands of outside agencies,” he added.

Both houses had to be adjourned a couple of times and later for the day, after both the Congress and the BJP benches booed each other during the discussion.

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