New Delhi: Misuse of the electoral bonds by the Modi government to fill the coffers of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) remained focus of the
Congress in Parliament for the third consecutive day on Friday. Before start of the day's sitting, the Congress members of both the Houses led by Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress' Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chouwdhury held a demonstration under Mahatma Gandhi's statue in the Parliament House,
demanding an inquiry into the Modi government tweaking the electoral bonds scheme to let the BJP make money even in the Assembly elections despite strong opposition to the scheme by the Reserve Bank of India and the Election Commission. The placards they carried read: "Corruption in Electoral Bonds."
There was an uproar for nearly 20 minutes in the Rajya Sabha on the issue after its chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected for the second day
on Friday all adjournment notices of the Congress and other members to suspend regular business of the House and discuss the corruption in the electoral bonds. The chairman ruled that the issue was not important enough to set aside the business.
Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma argued that the member normally do not invoke Rule 267 for suspension of the regular business unless the gravity and seriousness of the issue so demands. He insisted that the government should be asked to make full disclosures.
Chairman Naidu, however, overruled him. He said: "I am not convinced about the sudden necessity to discuss (electoral bonds). But I am convinced about necessity to discuss it and so it can be taken up in a different form."
He said Digvijaya Singh of Congress has given a Zero Hour notice on the same issue which he is allowing and other members can associate.
Singh, however, kept waiting as his turn never came and on his protests, the Chairman said he could raise the issue whenever a debate takes place.
Amid protests by the Congress benches, Singh was heard saying that the Chair had been "unfair" to him. Naidu reprimanded him, saying that this was not the way to threaten the Chair. "You have been totally unfair with all your experience," he told Singh.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was seen gesturing to the Congress benches to raise the issue to give him an opportunity to speak after the Chairman asserted that even no minister can speak on the matter he has closed. He had on Thursday hit back the Congress for opposing the electoral bonds that do not permit it to collect funds in the suitcases as in the past.
The chairman also pulled up CPI-M's TK Rangarajan terming the electoral bonds as a "big scam," saying the members cannot speak on a matter closed by the Chair.
Azad later told reporters that the Congress will continue to raise the issue and press for a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on how the Prime Minister's Office unashamedly got the law on the electoral bonds changed without Parliament's approval to allow the BJP
seek funds from the business houses for the Assembly elections. He pointed out that 97% of the electoral bonds sold through the State Bank of India (SBI) have gone to only the BJP.