New Delhi, July 21: The BJP, faced with Congress demands for the resignation of the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on the first day of Parliament's monsoon session, today asked the Opposition party if it was ready to jettison a 45-year precedent not to raise state matters in the House.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the media: "If the Congress wishes to raise state matters, it must remember that states have their forums in the legislative Assembly and legislative council for this purpose. Parliament is not the forum. There was no discussion even on something as important as the (Bihar) fodder scam when we tried to raise it."
Prasad warned that if the Congress demanded discussions on the Vyapam and Lalit Modi scandals, in which Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje are facing fire, it must yield to a debate on Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, accused of taking bribe from a power firm, the "liquor" case allegedly involving Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy and Robert Vadra's land deals.
"Congress must be ready for such discussions.... We will also ask how Arjun Singh (the late Madhya Pradesh chief minister) had given Warren Anderson safe passage out of Bhopal after the Carbide gas carnage and how Ottavio Quattrocchi (a friend of the Gandhis who was an accused in the Bofors case) was allowed to escape India," threatened Prasad.
"The parties with the Congress have to decide what they want," he further said.
Sources said the Trinamul Congress, whose stand will be known tomorrow, was on the BJP's radar. "If its MPs start blowing hot, we have a ready answer in Saradha," a source said.
The reason Parliament does not discuss state-related matters is that individual politicians, against whom such a discussion might throw up allegations, would not be present in the House to defend themselves. However, in rare instances of a caste or communal carnage or a serious human rights violation, Parliament has set aside its practice and allowed a discussion. But the BJP-led government at the Centre had not allowed a discussion on the Gujarat carnage of 2002.
That the BJP is now preparing to face a discussion in Parliament became evident when Amit Shah appointed confidant Kailash Vijayvargiya as a coordinator between the party and its parliamentary wing.
Vijayvargiya, tasked to look after Bengal, will keep in touch with the states to stay updated on scams. "Earlier it used to take us two or three days to get information on a controversy in a state where we were not in power. Now Kailashji will do the job in a few hours," a source said.