As Congress increased pressure over PM Narendra Modi’s remarks on the AgustaWestland chopper deal case, government on Tuesday hit back saying he cannot be gagged against speaking on corruption.
“Prime Minister is entitled to speak on corruption” both inside and outside the House and he cannot be “gagged”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha after a Congress leader said he has moved a breach of privilege motion against Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over PM’s remarks at a poll rally on the AgustaWestland issue.
Opposition had staged protest in the Upper House over the issue on Monday. It claimed that PM had “contradicted” Parrikar by stating during an election rally that Italian court has indicted Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the chopper deal, leading to washout of proceedings.
Congress member Shantaram Naik said he has moved a breach of privilege notice against the PM and the Defence Minister because of “lies” told outside the House about UPA leaders taking money in the chopper contract.
Jaitley retorted, “Since when has an election speech by one politician against another outside the House started to be construed as breach of privilege”.
Political speech outside by one politician against another is for “publicity” like the Congress members have been doing in front of media the whole of yesterday, he said.
“The Prime Minister is entitled to speak on corruption” both inside and outside the House and he cannot be “gagged”, he said.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said the statements made by the Prime Minister in the House or outside are as Prime Minister of the country and there cannot be any distinction between them.
“The Prime Minister has contradicted his Defence Minister,” he said.
Jaitley responded by saying that the Prime Minister cannot be gagged against speaking on corruption.