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Sushma Swaraj tears into Rahul in Lok Sabha, but loses battle of perception

Sushma Swaraj's spirited defence and scathing attack on the Congress in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday has triggered some interesting reactions on Twitter. Two of these, both loaded with cricket analogy, are worth mentioning.

One said Sushma took 44 wickets in one over – a reference to the strength of Congress in the Lok Sabha. The other said that Sushma should train Indian fast bowlers -- a recognition of her fiery bouncers at the Congress, particularly their senior-most leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram. She did not even spare the late Rajiv Gandhi.

Her most brutal attack was on the Gandhi family when she said: “I want to tell Rahul Gandhi. When you have alone-time on your next vacation, read the history of your family and come back and ask, 'Mumma how much money did we get in the Quattrochi case?”

 Sushma Swaraj tears into Rahul in Lok Sabha, but loses battle of perception

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj outside the Parliament on Wednesday. PTI

Swaraj resurrected political ghosts of yesteryears when she said, “The Congress during the Rajiv Gandhi government had helped Anderson escape,” referring to the dramatic escape of Warren Anderson of Union Carbide, who was implicated in the Bhopal gas tragedy, when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister in 1984.

Former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram was her next target. While asserting that she had not committed any transgressions in the Lalit Modi case, she took the battle right inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Congress camp when she said: "I want to tell Opposition members what conflict of interest is. The conflict of interest was when Chidambaram headed the Ministry of Finance and his wife Nalini was made the lawyer for the I-T department and she took a fee of Rs 1 crore from the Saradha Group."

“Rahul Gandhi alleged that I had broken the law and worked clandestinely. If anyone worked clandestinely, then it was you (Congress) who let (alleged Bofors middleman Ottavio) Quattrocchi escape the country." She also contended that her daughter Bansuri did not earn even one rupee from Lalit Modi in the passport case and added that Bansuri appeared as a junior in the case.

While Swaraj’s rhetoric evoked appreciation all around, she seemed to be practicing the age-old guerilla warfare technique, focusing more on the counter offence rather than defence. The most important Congress allegation against her still remains unanswered.

While Rahul Gandhi hounded her continuously with the question: "How much money she and her family receive from Lalit Modi and where is the black money," Swaraj concentrated on controversies surrounding the Congress.

Even though the Congress was involved in the Anderson case and the Quattrocchi case, Swaraj skirting questions on Lalit Modi does not really clear her name in the controversy. Her not answering the above-mentioned question of Rahul Gandhi only leaves a trail of question marks.

Sushma stated that her daughter had not received a single rupee from Lalit Modi in the passport case but cleverly skirted Rahul Gandhi’s question as to how much money her family had received from the former cricket czar.

However, at the end of the day the message is simple. The government has stood solidly behind Sushma Swaraj despite a ferocious attack on her by the Congress and the party has had to eat crow by returning to Parliament for some meaningful debates rather than sloganeering, disruptions and walkouts.

Yet, Sushma Swaraj has not succeeded in winning the battle of public perception against the Congress by proving them wrong. Whatever the denouement of the Sushma Swaraj saga may be, one thing looks certain: the cantankerous relationship between the Congress and the BJP has become all the more inimical. This is not a happy sign for the Indian parliamentary democracy.

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Updated Date: Aug 13, 2015 09:52:33 IST