Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday termed the Bharatiya Janata Party's decision not to attend any meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar or Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath for the rest of the session as another sad development in the Indian democracy.
"I do not think that the Congress or the UPA did anything yesterday or said anything yesterday, which should have provoked such a virulent attack by the Leader of Opposition on the Congress President. I think it was an unjustified attack and I am sorry she made that attack," said Chidambaram.
"On reflection I am sure she would also realise that perhaps there was no justification for making that attack yesterday. If the BJP has taken a decision not to attend a meeting called by the honourable Speaker, I can only say that it's another sad development in our democracy," he added.
Chidambaram further said Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj's charges that Congress President Sonia Gandhi instigated the treasury benches to disrupt her speech is completely baseless.
"I was present in the house, so were my colleagues. And I think later in the evening, the entire visual was re-broadcast by many channels. On half the screen, we saw the Leader of Opposition speaking, the other half of the screen focused on the Speaker, focused on some members, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi," said Chidambaram.
"I don't think there is any visual in which Sonia Gandhi is interrupting Sushma Swaraj or Sonia Gandhi is doing anything that will hinder Sushma Swaraj's speech. This allegation is completely baseless, we reject it. The visuals are proof of that," he added.
Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said that he has with him a verbatim transcript to prove the point that neither UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi nor any members tried to interrupt Sushma Swaraj.
"I have a verbatim transcript with me of what the honourable Leader of the Opposition said yesterday and nowhere does the transcript indicate that either the honourable Congress President or any Congress member tried to interrupt the honourable Leader of the Opposition. This verbatim transcript speaks for itself," he said.
Sushma Swaraj yesterday charged Sonia Gandhi of 'instigating' the treasury benches to disrupt her speech, and announced that the BJP would not attend any meeting convened by either the Speaker or the Parliamentary Affairs Minister for the rest of the session.
"The Congress President has 'no faith in parliamentary traditions' and 'no respect for democratic institutions'," she said.
Swaraj said the Congress had violated the understanding reached at the meeting called by Speaker Meira Kumar on Monday that she would be allowed to speak before BJP members walked out to facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill, Appropriations Bill, Railway Budget and Demands for Grants.
"Barely two minutes after I started speaking, the Congress President got into action. She incited ministers and her party members to disturb my speech. Strangely, the Parliamentary Affairs minister was at the forefront. With utmost pain, I observed that the Speaker instead of controlling the ruling side, started telling me to wind up. Even she did not protect me," she said.
The senior BJP leader, while referring to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's assertion that the Opposition was making a mockery of democracy by not letting Parliament function, and that the whole world was laughing at India, said: "The world is laughing because of the government's conduct. The prestige of the country has been dented."
The Prime Minister had earlier last month appealed to the opposition parties to allow the Parliament to function and discuss all the issues through proper dialogue there.
"By not allowing Parliament to function, we are making a mockery of our system of democracy. The whole world is laughing at us. Whatever the issues, these can be debated, discussed and decisions arrived at through proper dialogue in Parliament," Dr. Singh told mediapersons on the sidelines of the defence investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan last Saturday here. (ANI)