BJP paralyses RS over IT order on Vibrant Gujarat MoUs

New Delhi: Terming the Income Tax order to Gujarat on MoUs signed during a recent investment meet as a "huge assault" on the country`s federal character, protesting BJP members on Wednesday virtually paralysed proceedings in the Rajya Sabha.

Forcing repeated adjournments, the main opposition, supported by ally JD(U) and BJD, demanded that Prime Minister or Finance Minister should set the record straight on the issue while Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley tersely asked the Centre if it considered Gujarat "an enemy territory" and Chief Minister Narendra Modi "an enemy alien".

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Jaitley took strong objection to IT department order of February 17 which sought details of MoUs signed between the state and private entrepreneurs who attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January.

"In terms of federal polity, it is a huge assault on federalism in India. There is no greater abuse," he said.

"Do you have animus against the people of Gujarat? Do you treat it as an enemy territory? Do you treat the Chief Minister as an enemy alien?," Jaitley asked.

Observing that an unprecedented Rs 20.53 lakh crore has been promised in the Summit, he said the state government has institutionalised a system of attracting investment through the annual meet.

"Instead of feeling proud and other states must emulate that example… you (Centre) let loose the IT department against those who want to invest in the state," the BJP leader said.

Following this BJP members trooped into Well shouting slogans.

Jaitley claimed that every opposition ruled state has been complaining of discrimination of this kind. He referred to how Orissa and Uttar Pradesh were being "discriminated".

"These are not governments controlled by party. They are controlled by parties which we do not agree with. The West Bengal government is objecting how the Centre is discriminating against them," he said.

He said if the IT official has issued the order on his own, it was dereliction of duty and a fit case for his removal. If it was done at the behest political masters, they must apologise, he said.

After four adjournments, Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan was forced to adjourn the House for the day.

Jaitley also claimed that there was some "contemptuous" evidence to show that political parties at the Centre were misusing its machinery in the opposition ruled state.

The repeated disruptions anguished Chairman Hamid Ansari who recently decided to shift the Question Hour to the afternoon from the usual 1100 hours.

"I want this to go on record. This (frequent uproar) is an extraordinary commentary on the functioning of Indian democracy," Ansari said during Question Hour.

Jaitley, however, put the onus on the ruling party.

"We are to be strictured by the Chairman in this manner?," he wondered, adding that his party wanted the Finance Minister or some other minister to respond.

"It is the responsibility of the ruling party to ensure that Parliamentary proceedings continue," he said.

On Chairman`s observation, BJP leader S S Ahluwalia remarked, "Are we kids?"

In the morning, the House witnessed heated exchanges between Congress and BJP members.

Tempers ran high when some Congress members retorted.

"All MoUs are fraud," Congress member Shantaram Naik said, prompting ngry gestures from Rudnarayan Pany (BJP).

BJP member M Venkaiah Naidu said the only solution to the issue was that either the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister should make a statement.

Jaitley said that on the eve of the Summit, opposition Congress in the state had made a public statement that the Union Finance Ministry must use the I-T department to inquire into MoUs.

When Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal wanted to respond, BJP members again created a ruckus. "They are not letting me speak," he complained to the Chair.