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Congress continues its attack on Sushma Swaraj, BJP hits back

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New Delhi: The confrontation between the Congress and the BJP escalated further on Friday with Congress president Sonia Gandhi accusing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of indulging in “theatrics” and Rahul Gandhi demanding to know how much money she got from former IPL chief Lalit Modi.

Sonia-Gandhi
The Bharatiya Janata Party hit back at Sonia Gandhi, saying she finds it difficult to deliver a speech without reading from a prepared text.

Sonia Gandhi, who continued to lead the noisy protests by Congress leaders against the suspension of 25 party MPs, made a stinging attack on Sushma Swaraj’s Thursday comment claiming she had not helped Lalit Modi but his ailing wife.

“Sushma Swaraj theatrics me mahir hain (Sushma Swaraj is an expert in theatrics),” Sonia Gandhi told the media.

In her speech, Sushma Swaraj had asked: “What would have Sonia Gandhi done had she been in my place?”

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi answered the question, saying his mother would not have done anything like Sushma Swaraj.

Rahul Gandhi also said: “After committing a theft, thieves go into hiding. What Sushma ji did she did secretively. Not one person in the (external affairs) ministry knew she was going to do this.

“Whenever there is robbery or theft, a financial transfer takes place. Sushmaji’s family, her husband and daughter have received money from Lalit Modi. She should tell the country exactly how much money Lalit Modi has paid to her family,” he said.

Friday was the fourth successive day of Congress protest against the suspension of 25 of its members from the Lok Sabha by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Monday.

Congress members raised slogans at the protest asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence on the Lalit Modi and Vyapam scam issues.

Lalit Modi is facing investigation in several cases by the Enforcement Directorate.

The BJP leaders and union ministers hit back at Sonia Gandhi after her denunciation of Sushma Swaraj.

Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Those who cannot come to parliament, cannot speak in parliament, will do this outside parliament…For someone who can speak and debate in parliament… this is the difference between Sushma ji and Sonia Gandhi.”

Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani added: “Sushma ji’s speech is a challenge for the opposition to get proof against her. It’s easy for Sonia ji to give a byte, but it is not easy for her to give a speech without reading it out from a paper.”

While the Lok Sabha took up business after a walkout by Samajwadi Party and Left members who sought revocation of suspension of Congress members, the Rajya Sabha failed to transact business for the third consecutive week since the monsoon session began.

The upper house was adjourned for the day after heated arguments between Congress and treasury benches over the stalemate in the house over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.

The Congress, supported by some opposition parties, has been demanding the resignation of Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on their alleged help to Lalit Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

As private members’ bills were introduced into the post-lunch session, Congress leader Anand Sharma stood up and said there can be no discussion.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government wants to take “the country on the path of development while the Congress is trying to take it towards destruction”.

Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the Lok Sabha that the government was ready to move a motion to revoke the suspension of Congress MPs if they met the Lok Sabha speaker and promised her to help run the house. The members were suspended for five days.

(IANS)

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What Would Be The Outcome Of The Judgement On Homosexuality With BJP At The Centre?

If parties like the BJP and "cultural" organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation.

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Flag Of BJP, homosexuality
Ruling on gays: Is the BJP out of sync with modern realities? Flickr

More than the social impact of the Supreme Court’s judgment on homosexuality, what will be of concern to the ruling party at the Centre is its political fallout. Hence, the eloquent silence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the subject.

For the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), any expansion of the concept of civil liberties is fraught with danger to their restrictive worldviews since a widening of human rights carries the prospect of greater individualism.

If the rights of the homosexuals to live without legal constraints are conceded, it can only encourage the people to free themselves of other restrictions as well such as on choosing live-in partners (of whatever sex) and eating, dressing and speaking as they please.

Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

It is noteworthy that the verdict on gays has come close on the heels of the judgment which described the right to dissent as a “safety valve” which the government can only shut off at its peril lest there is an explosion.

Moreover, the court had also upheld not long ago the right to privacy which the government described as an “elitist” concept.

For the Hindu Right, as also for other religious fundamentalists, this dalliance with civil rights — the freedom to criticise the government, the exaltation of privacy and now the decriminalisation of homosexuality — entails a push towards liberalism and modernism which are anathema to any group which wants the society to be bound by shackles of orthodoxy and obscurantism.

It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.

Now that one of them is gone, there is little doubt that these closet followers of Britain’s 19th century politician Lord Macaulay — even as they decry the secular groups as “Macaulay’s children” — will hold on resolutely to the law on sedition as their only safeguard against the “anti-nationals” who, they believe, stalk the land.

Homosexuality
It is ironic that although the Hindutva brotherhood speaks of decolonising the Indian mind, the two colonial laws which have long been its favourites are the section on homosexuality in the Indian Penal Code and on sedition.
Wikimedia Commons

It is also possible that the saffronites will keep a hawk’s eye on any social problems that may arise because of the assertion of gay rights. As the BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has said, with eager anticipation, if a five-judge bench can overturn an earlier judgment in favour of criminalising homosexuality, a larger bench can undo the present verdict if gay bars begin to flourish and there is a rise in the cases of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infections.

Interestingly, what these judgments underline is how the judiciary is more attuned to the changing world than the elected representatives of the hoi polloi who often argue in favour of giving greater primacy to the legislature than the judiciary since they claim to represent the people while the judges are unelected denizens of an ivory tower.

However, one possible reason why MPs and MLAs, especially of the BJP, seem to be out of sync with the present-day world is the presence in their midst of a large number of criminal elements who can hardly be regarded as the most progressive sections of society.

For instance, of the 543 elected members of the Lok Sabha, of whom 186 have a criminal record, 63 belong to the BJP, followed by eight of the Shiv Sena, four of the Trinamool Congress and three each of the Congress and the AIADMK.

Homosexuality
Gay Pride Procession. Pixabay

What the Supreme Court judgment appears to have done is to persuade parties like the Congress, which usually hedges its bets lest it should fall on the wrong side of public opinion, to come out in the verdict’s favour, presumably because it senses that this judgment, more than any other, has become a touchstone in the matter of breaking out from the stranglehold of the past.

To distance a party from it, as the BJP is doing, will amount to virtually alienating the entire youth community. Even if a majority among them do not have homosexual instincts — according to official figures, there are 2.5 million gay people in India, but this may be an underestimate since, till now, it was unsafe for them to reveal their sexual orientation — the youths nevertheless see the ruling as an assertion of living life on one’s own terms and not be held hostage by the dictates of a society steeped in conservatism and of political parties which believe that their agenda can only advanced if the country is made forcibly to conform to khap panchayat-style social and cultural norms.

Also Read: Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Instant

To these youths, being or not being aware of homosexuality is of little consequence. What matters to them is to be able to make up their own minds and not be told by elders to abide by certain rules which are regarded as outdated by the younger generation.

If parties like the BJP and “cultural” organisations like the RSS realise the value and motivation of such mindsets, they will desist from their present attempts to impose a straitjacket of their pseudo-religious identity on the nation. (IANS)