| Sushma Swaraj
New Delhi, Aug. 19: Sushma Swaraj was in a combative mood — and it lasted more than one-and-a-half hours.
On the second day of the debate on the no-trust motion against the government, the health minister went on the offensive as she rebutted Sonia Gandhi’s nine-point charter of accusations. She then turned on Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy, mocking his use of “bombastic” words which she claimed could only be “understood with the help of a dictionary”.
Swaraj, who began her spirited defence by countering Sonia’s accusations, told the Congress chief: “Madam, we do not plead guilty to your charges.” What followed was a shrill, acrimonious debate, with the Opposition frequently disrupting the Union minister, provoking her to hit back with matching vehemence.
“The Congress flaunted its ability to govern as its ‘unique selling point’. But we have wrenched this USP from the party by successfully running a coalition for five years,” she said. “Despite all of comrade (CPM leader H.S.) Surjeet’s efforts, all coalitions failed. Neither V.P. Singh nor Deve Gowda lasted a full term.”
Swaraj blasted Reddy for using incomprehensible and insulting words. “I went to a book shop the other day and came across a book titled A Thousand Insults. When I went to the bookshop next, I found the book updated to A Thousand More Insults. Most of the words I discovered have been used by Jaipal Reddy,” she said.
When an irate Congress member thumped the table and wanted to know the name of the author, the parliamentary affairs minister retorted: “I know the name of the reader — S. Jaipal Reddy.” The rare moments when Congress members lapsed into silence was when Swaraj reminded Sonia — who yesterday accused the BJP-led NDA of destabilising state governments — that it was the Congress that started the “toppling game”.
Swaraj said 23 years ago, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, the entire Janata Party government in Haryana had overnight crossed over to the Congress. Sonia had accused the BJP of destabilising the Congress-led government in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Congress chief had also accused the BJP of undermining the Parliament. In reply, Swaraj raked up the Allahabad High Court judgment against Indira Gandhi and how she rammed through the 39th constitutional amendment to stay in power.
The Union minister next turned the heat on Reddy. “Jaipal Reddy yesterday said the Central Vigilance Committee report contains information on five items related to Operation Vijay (during the Kargil war). He had said I am quoting this information with full responsibility.
“I want to say with even greater authority,” Swaraj said today, “that the CVC report contains information on just two and not five items of Operation Vijay.”
It was then the Opposition’s turn to grill Swaraj on how the information, which has not been given out to Parliament’s public accounts committee, is available with the minister.