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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BJP renews demand for PM's resignation

New Delhi: Proceedings in both houses of parliament were disrupted for the second consecutive day Tuesday as the BJP-led opposition renewed its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation over the official auditor's report on coal block allocation. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned repeatedly with not much business transacted as the opposition took up its demand following the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report that lack of transparency in allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a notional loss of Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer as on March 11 last year. The audit report does not directly indict the prime minister or his office. But during the time these mining blocks in question were allotted, the coal portfolio was held by him -- between July 2004 and May 2009. Question hour could not be taken up in either house. The Lok Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon soon after it met at 11 a.m., and the Rajya Sabha adjourned in quick succession twice till noon. When the two houses met again at noon, the morning scenes were repeated with BJP members trooping towards the presiding officers' chairs, raising slogans demanding the prime minister's resignation. With the BJP determined not to let the houses function until the prime minister resigned, the chairs in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were forced to adjourn the house till 2 p.m. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal defended the coal block allocations, saying: 'There is no wrong doing on the part of the government. The coal block allocation was done in the nation's interest and country's development.' BJP leader Arun Jaitley was not impressed. 'The prime minister must accept his culpability in this matter and the reason is very obvious. In the five out of eight years only 142 coal blocks were allocated. This means public revenue suffered and private parties gained. He himself was the coal minister,' Jaitley told a news channel. 'In the 2G spectrum allocation scam, the minister concerned resigned and when he resigned, others tried to escape from their responsibility. This is a case where the prime minister was the coal minister and the government is putting a brave face and saying they are ready for a debate. But why do you require a debate,' the BJP leader asked. 'If in December 2010, we had not held up the winter session (A.) Raja would not have resigned... Our pressure in parliament did work in the 2G scam and I hope it does work even now.' BJP leader Balbir Punj told IANS: 'The prime minister is the prime accused in this case. How can we have a debate on the issue unless he resigns. We are ready for discussion only after he resigns.'

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