M A I N   N E W S

PM breaks silence, slams BJP for Parliament washout
Urges people to stand up against the forces of anarchy
Anita Katyal/TNS

New Delhi, September 7
As the Congress and the BJP get ready to hit the streets on the coal blocks issue after a wasted monsoon session of Parliament, an unusually combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today slammed the BJP for “lowering the prestige of India as the world’s largest Parliamentary democracy by preferring obstruction over discussion.”

Accusing the BJP (without naming it) of resorting to ‘dysfunctional politics’, the Prime Minister set the tone for the upcoming face-off between the two national parties as he urged people to “stand up and unite against the forces of anarchy and disruption.” The Opposition decision not to debate the CAG report on coal blocks allocation is a negation of democracy, he remarked.

In a strongly-worded message to the nation, the PM said the Opposition had made a “mockery of Parliamentary democracy.” “Those who prevent Parliament from functioning disable the voice of people and force them to listen to voices in the street which is not the place for reasoned discourse. Instead of debating the CAG report on coal blocks allotment in Parliament, the Opposition saw fit to demand my resignation,” he added.

These remarks are a departure from the past, as the PM has never issued such a session-end statement before though there have been numerous occasions in the past when Parliament has been similarly disrupted by an unyielding Opposition. Today’s critical statement comes in the backdrop of the BJP’s demand for the PM’s resignation in connection with the coal blocks controversy and a growing public perception that he had not responded adequately to the Opposition’s allegations. The PM had admitted recently that he did not want to get into a slanging match with the Opposition.

Nevertheless, the PM took the unusual step of issuing such a statement which, UPA insiders said, is in line with the Congress decision to take the BJP head-on as the two sides reach out to the people to tell their respective sides of the story on Coalgate.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had laid down the roadmap of this counter-offensive before she went abroad for a medical check-up last Saturday. With BJP announcing a country-wide agitation on the coal issue today, the Congress has decided to send out its senior ministers and party leaders to different state capitals to “nail the Opposition’s lies” as Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal put it. His colleague Rajeev Shukla will be in Chandigarh on Monday as part of this exercise.

While keeping up the attack on the Opposition, the PM also stressed that the issues raised CAG were not being swept under the carpet and that necessary corrective action will be taken.

Criticised for poor governance, the PM blamed the current policy paralysis on the Opposition’s obstructionist tactics. Admitting the country faced many internal and external problems, he said the government was unable to do its best as it was “constantly distracted” by the action of those who prefer disruption and not discussion. Acutely aware of the flak he is facing over the loss of growth momentum, the PM said he had instructed ministers to take speedy decisions to get the economy moving again.



BJP to chalk out strategy on Sept 13
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Blaming the UPA regime for the partial washout of the monsoon session of Parliament, the BJP today announced that it would take its fight against the Congress-led government over the corruption issue to every nook and corner of the country.

“Now that the Parliament session has ended, the core group of the BJP will meet on September 13 to work out our strategy to take our fight against the government over the loot in coal block allocations to the village level,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj announced here at a joint press conference with her party colleague and Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Arun Jaitley.

Strongly justifying the BJP-led NDA’s decision to stall the proceedings of the two Houses in the wake of the CAG report on coal block allocations, the two leaders asserted that the government would have to concede their party’s demand for the cancellation of all allotments and a fair and impartial probe into the issue.

“We have attempted to shake the conscience of the people of this country. The UPA is a regime which is committed to kleptocracy,’’ said Jaitley.

“I would like to remind the Prime Minister, when he was the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, his party had also stalled Parliament over the Tehelka issue. Even over the coffin scam, they stalled Parliament and called us coffin thieves," Swaraj said.

"Not allowing Parliament to function is also a form of democracy like any other form,” she contended, reacting to the PM’s statement that the BJP's stalling of Parliament was a "negation" of democracy. She also defended her party's stand of not allowing a debate without cancellation of allocated coal blocks.



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