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Rivals fling corruption mud in House

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Rivals Congress and the BJP reeled off scams during each other’s regimes as the customary debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address began today with a slanging match on corruption.

As soon as Congress MP P.C. Chacko, who initiated the discussion, mentioned “coffingate” to confront the charge of corruption levelled by the main Opposition, BJP members led by former finance minister Yashwant Sinha erupted in protest.

“You are all corrupt,” Sinha thundered. “You gobble up money in every deal, there is scandal in every sector.”

As a visibly upset Sonia Gandhi stared at Sinha, telecom minister Kapil Sibal sprang up with a strong rebuttal, saying: “You buried the coffin scam, your one president went to jail for taking bribe, another you had to remove because of corruption charges…”

Sibal’s statement triggered a full-fledged verbal duel. BJP MPs raised the 2G and the Commonwealth Games scandal and also the coal allocation controversy and asked the government to stop harping on the coffin scam, which they said was a false accusation.

The coffin scandal relates to allegations of buying substandard caskets for fallen soldiers in the Kargil war.

The proceedings normalised only after the BJP realised that the treasury benches were not going to apologise.

Chacko accused the BJP of being intolerant and pointed out that the Manmohan Singh government had faced the worst kind of criticism from both political opponents and civil society members but still engaged with them.

He questioned the BJP’s duplicity in fighting for the Lokpal at the Centre while opposing lokayuktas in states.

Chacko also accused the BJP of not co-operating in passing anti-corruption legislation. He said defence minister A.K. Antony should be complimented for ordering a CBI investigation into the helicopter deal without pressure from any quarter.

When the BJP members booed him, he said: “There are informed members in your party, they will explain to you the truth about the chopper scam.”