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Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan addressed the media today.
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan said today the BJP and the entire opposition have once again stalled the proceedings of the House. They have not allowed financial business very important constitutional money bill to be taken up for proper discussion but have walked out thereby in complete dereliction of their duty as an opposition party. As far as the issue of the wikiLeak discussion is concerned, in both Houses of Parliament, the government has clearly said that they are amenable to discussion after the financial business was disposed. Several times from this forum, the Congress party has said that wikiLeaks are an unverified and unverifiable source of information, allegedly communication between the diplomats of other countries. However, the BJP has sought to raise this to the level of the Indian parliament, to the level of national political issue and has thereby sullied the integrity of our parliament by raising these an issue on the floor of the House for purely political and politically expedient reasons. The hypocrisy and the double speak of the BJP also stand exposed in this matter. They do not hesitate to attack the Prime Minister of India on the basis of supposed allegations in wikiLeaks but remain silent when the role of their own leader is exposed. The statement allegedly made by Mr. Advani on the nuclear deal showing a public face to the nation saying that this was to score points against the government and a completely different face to the officials of US embassy exposes the lack of integrity, the double standards and the double speak of the BJP who are now holding parliament to ransom. We, therefore, demand an apology from the BJP for maligning the Prime Minister of India on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations and also demand that the houses of parliament should not be further disrupted and should be allowed to resume their legislative duties.
On the question of reaction of the Congress party over the recommendations of Kishore Chander Deo panel on cash-for-vote scam in relation to the revelations made in the wikiLeaks, Smt. Natarajan said that it is unverifiable and unverified leak. We do not wish to elevate it to the level of national debate. Kishore Chander Deo panel might have recommended further recommendations. That is for the government to answer. If at all anybody should be enquired, it is those MPs of the opposition who brought cash in their hands. Where was it lying? Was it lying in Mr. Advani's office? The Congress party has already raised this issue. Rather I have raised this issue during the congress briefing and in parliament that the Speaker should investigate as to how this money was brought in the houses of parliament. So, that is for the government to pursue that line of action. I am merely saying on behalf of the Congress party that opposition should apologize to the Prime Minister for maligning the institution of the Prime Minister on unverified false allegations.
Smt. Natrajan, in response to a question over the reaction of the Congress party on the statement of author of wikiLeaks, further said that this is wiki leaks by definition a leaks and are, therefore, unverified and unverifiable. They are between severing government and its diplomats and she does not want to dignify wikieaks with the response, I would definitely not like to respond to what Mr. Assange has said. Smt. Natarajan also said that the opposition should first allow the financial business of the house to continue. I also strongly state that this is being used as a politically expedient tool by the opposition to generate sensationalism. First of all, it relates to an already expired Lok Sabha. As far as latest issue is concerned, this is an entirely new Lok Sabha and therefore, the opposition is only seeking to divert the attention of the people from real issues that hang instead of concentrating upon playing the role of constructive opposition.
Smt. Natarajan also said as far as Mr. Narendra Modi aspiring or assuming larger role in this country is concerned, I certainly believe, as do the most citizens of this country, it is highly unlikely prospect.
On the question of selection of candidates by the Congress party for the forthcoming Assam assembly elections, Smt. Natarajan said, first of all, the entire process of handling of tickets is clearly demarcated transparent democratic process in the Congress party. There is a Pradesh Election Committee, discussions with the Congress leaders of the State and there are discussions with the General Secretary and an Election committee headed by the Congress President. Therefore, it is a clear process. Secondly, I have no idea but I do not believe that criminals have been fielded. If there are, the Election Commission itself has clear rules where criminals cannot possibly file nominations. Thirdly, the fact is that the party gives ticket to those whom party believes is in the best interest of the party and if there are those who are unsatisfied, this is a normal procedure during an election and I am sure all the matters will be ironed out within a very short time and the elections will proceed smoothly.
On the question of the reaction of the Congress party over the manifesto released by the DMK promising number of sops and does that not amount to bribery, Smt. Natarajan said that No, because it is a manifesto. It is something that the political party is promising the people, if they come to power. So, what is given in a manifesto, cannot amount to bribery. During the last election also, the DMK promised free TV sets which all the people got. So what is given in a party's manifesto, it is a declaration of intent by the party which cannot possibly amount to bribery.
To a further question on the announcement of the candidates for Tamil Nadu assembly elections, Smt. Natarajan said we hope very shortly the list will be announced - possibly today or tomorrow.
To another question on the selection of seats in West Bengal assembly elections, Smt. Natarajan said she is not aware of the seats the questioner was referring to. In every state where there are coalition partners, there are hectic parleys and discussions and the teams of negotiators do the utmost to make sure that the party gets the best deal possible. I am not aware what seats were left out, what seats were obtained, why this happened. All I can say is, that in the ultimate analysis, decisions are made in the best interest of the party and it will prove to be the same in case of West Bengal also.
On the question of announcement of 6% DA hike to central government employees in view of forthcoming election in five states, Smt. Natrajan said it was a cabinet decision and I am sure if there was any issue, the cabinet would have looked into it. I do not believe there is any significance attached to it.