Day 2: Coal fire doesn’t abate, Parliament remains
New Delhi, August 22
The government, on the other hand, reiterated its offer for a debate during which it could clarify on the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, including the one on allocation of coal blocks that is said to have caused an estimated loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s assurance in the Lok Sabha that the government was willing to initiate a debate on the CAG reports failed to impress the BJP.
In the Rajya Sabha, attempts by Chairman Hamid Ansari to conduct House proceedings could not succeed either. “Parliament is for discussions. Let them come and discuss. We will demolish the Opposition’s point of view and that is why they are running away,” Bansal later said outside the House. He also suggested that the Prime Minister could intervene in the discussion.
The BJP, however, appeared in no mood to relent. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said unlike the 2G Spectrum allocation, the Prime Minister was directly responsible for “coal gate” since he held the portfolio then.
“The only way to break the deadlock in Parliament is that the PM should take responsibility and act accordingly. There is no way that he can escape responsibility for this monumental loss,” he argued.
Efforts to break the parliamentary logjam are underway with leaders of various political parties, including the Left, trying to work on a plan to isolate the BJP and not allow it to decide on the functioning of the Houses. The Left parties are keen to pillory the government on the floor of the House and hold it accountable to Parliament.
The repeated adjournment of Parliament effected by a vociferous section of the Opposition led by the BJP is now being questioned by its own allies, especially the JD(U).
Much to the delight of Congress parliamentary managers, perceptible differences appeared in the Opposition ranks in the Lok Sabha with Rajiv Ranjan Singh of the JD(U) seeking to initiate a special discussion on flood and drought situation even as his colleagues were in the Well raising slogans against the PM.
Sources said the JD(U) was of the view that unless the entire Opposition worked together, there was no point in disrupting Parliament for a prolonged period. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav is understood to have been in touch with leaders of non-NDA parties, including the TDP and the SP which favoured that Parliament should be allowed to function.
Left leaders, including Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), have also been working on a plan to isolate the BJP. The Left parties have been demanding that the Prime Minister should clarify on the findings of the CAG through Parliament.
Meanwhile, the government launched yet another round of fire-fighting exercise with Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal asserting that coal block auction could not be effected due to opposition by coal-rich states like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
PM must take responsibility
The only way to break the deadlock in Parliament is that the Prime Minister should take responsibility and act accordingly.
— Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Oppn in RS
Come forward for Debate
Parliament is for discussions. Let them come and discuss. We will demolish the Opposition’s point of view and that is why they are running away.
— Pawan Kumar Bansal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister