BJP Leader Piyush Goyal Challenges Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge to Fight Poll Against Him from Mumbai
Piyush Goyal (Photo Credits: PTI/File)

New Delhi, Aug 9: A verbal duel broke out between Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge and Finance Minister Piyush Goyal with the latter challenging the Congress leader to contest an election against him from Mumbai. Goyal, during his 45-minute speech while moving the amendments to GST laws in the Lok Sabha, had said that Congress would be reduced to just four seats in the 2019 general elections. Kharge retorted by saying that Goyal has "not won" a local election but was brought to Rajya Sabha and made the Finance Minister. The exchanges took place when Goyal was speaking and the Congress members were in the Well, raising slogans to demand setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale jet deal.

Kharge also alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal and demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into it. As Kharge continued to raise the issue of the Rafale deal, BJP members objected to it saying that the House has taken up GST bill for discussion and not Rafale.

"This has got no relation with GST. The Rafale deal was entered into with France for the benefit of the country. Congress government during its tenure has witnessed many scams including Agusta Westland," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said. He also urged Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai to remove Kharge's remarks on Rafale deal from the record.

As Kharge continued to attack the government, Thambidurai called out Subhash Chandra Behria (BJP) to speak on the GST bills. Goyal said he had "four times" appealed to the Opposition to support the GST amendment bills. "But by disturbing the House, you are only showing your colour, you are exposing yourself," he said.

"In my speech, I had made no personal attack against anyone. I did not know that Khargeji will take the level of this discussion down to a point where he will start making personal attacks. I challenge you to come and fight an election against me in Mumbai," an agitated Goyal said.

Coming to his defence, Nishikant Dubey (BJP) said the rules allowed a Minister to put forth his observations while moving a bill. Kharge, however, continued saying he had made no personal allegation against Goyal. "You (Goyal) said that Congress would be reduced to 3-4 seats. Everything NDA is doing is for the benefit of the country and whatever Congress did was not for the betterment of the country," Kharge said.

Congress members, who were in the Well, demanded that Kharge be allowed to continue with his speech. Later, the Congress members staged a walk out from the House. TMC's Saugata Ray, in his speech, raised the issue of Goyal speaking for 45 minutes and said that Congress has said the Finance Minister has never won an election. Thambidurai asked Ray to stick to GST discussion and not deviate from the topic.

Ray, however, said that Constitution provided for freedom of speech in Parliament. "The ruling party members are throttling the voice of the opposition when any inconvenient questions are raised," he said. He also objected to Goyal speaking for 45 minutes while moving the bills, saying "this is not the convention of the House" and it is only after the opposition and other members speak the Minister gives a detailed response.