Sonia Gandhi leads Congress fightback in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: With the BJP adamant on disrupting Parliament, Congress President Sonia Gandhi went into combative mode as she told party MPs to take on the main Opposition "aggressively", and personally led a counter attack in the Lok Sabha.

In the Lok Sabha, BJP members trooped into the Well, chanting slogans against the government and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister over the CAG report on coal block allocation.

However, their colleagues from NDA allies Shiv Sena, JD-U and Akali Dal did not join them in the Well but raised slogans from their seats.

Screengrab from CNN IBN

Displaying determination to aggressively take on the BJP, Gandhi led from the front by egging on her members to counter the opposition's sloganeering.

Earlier in the morning, she had told a meeting of party MPs not to be deflected by the "intemperate Congress bashing" by the opposition and hit back.

Even before the Question Hour began, she was seen engaged in an animated conversation with leaders of key UPA allies -- NCP chief Sharad Pawar and NC head Farooq Abdullah.

Then, she walked up to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's seat and sat with him for a chat. She wished Yadav with a "namaste" and left with a "shukriya" (thank you).

Gandhi's pro-activeness was visible later when the Lok Sabha met again at noon after the Question Hour was adjourned.

When BJP members trooped into the Well and shouted slogans against Congress, Gandhi asked Minister Ambika Soni to stand up and counter them. Amid the din, Gandhi also tried to draw the Chair's attention towards Soni.

Soni tried to speak at the top of her voice but was inaudible. Gandhi then asked other Congress members to stand up and take on the BJP. When some members from Treasury Benches walked to the Well and had an exchange of words with BJP MPs however, Gandhi restrained her party colleagues from entering the Well.

Well aware that the House is not going to function, many members tried to out-shout each other on the floor before the proceedings resumed at noon.

Lalu Prasad (RJD) entered the House declaring that the real reason for BJP's protest is that it does not want passage of crucial Bills, including the one for reservation in promotions in government jobs for SC/STs.

BJP members shouted that Prasad is miffed as he did not get a share of the "fat sum" that has gone to Congress in the coal allocation scam.

Congress members, led by Soni, countered the Opposition by shouting back from their benches, with some of them moving to the aisle, but being stopped from moving ahead by Sonia Gandhi.

The Lower House, which first adjourned till noon, got adjourned again minutes after Speaker Meira Kumar ordered the laying of papers. She also took the sense of the House and announced that the proceedings for tomorrow would be cancelled on account of Onam.

Amid the din, DMK members wanted to take up the issue of India training Sri Lankan air force personnel and were seen protesting while remaining in the aisle. They were seen carrying placards that read 'Stop Training Sri Lankan Army'.

Ruckus was witnessed in the Rajya Sabha as well with BJP members raising slogans like "beimano ki sarkar nahi chalegi (the government of the corrupt will not continue)" and "Koyle ki dalali hai, Congress sarkar Kali hai (brokerage of coal has tarred Congress government black)."

BJP members paid no heed to repeated warnings by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien that shouting slogans amounted to "blatant violations of rules."

DMK members moved into the aisle carrying placards protesting against India training Sri Lankan air force personnel. Kurien warned them saying, "What you are doing is blatant violation of rules, don't do it."

CPI leader D Raja, who had given a notice for discussion on India training Sri Lankan soldiers, also stood up to raise the matter.

When the House met again at 2 PM after two adjournments since 11, Kurien tried to resume discussion on Whistle Blowers Bill, which has been pending since last week, but BJP members started shouting slogans.

Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy resented the uproar created by BJP, saying the government was ready for discussion but the main Opposition party was running away from it.

BJP members trooped into the Well and were joined in the protests by BJD members demanding cancellation of coal blocks allocated. DMK members were displaying placards over Sri Lankan air force personnel training issue.

Congress members were heard shouting "BJP stands for Bahar Jao Party".

Kurien said shouting slogans and displaying placards were "blatant violation of rules" and adjourned the House for the day.

PTI