In its bid to corner the BJP and its allies on the coal scam, the Congress on Monday launched a counter offensive saying the BJP had run away from the debate in Parliament to save its three chief ministers who had opposed competitive bidding for allocation of coal mines.
Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Shukla said that by not allowing both houses of Parliament to function, the BJP had caused a loss of Rs 111 crore to the national exchequer. Shukla claimed that other political parties wanted to debate the issue.
Addressing a press conference here, Shukla, who was accompanied by Congress Punjab affairs in-charge Gulchain Singh Charak and state Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, said the BJP had no faith in Parliament, hence it sabotaged its proceedings.
Saying there was a standard parliamentary procedure to discuss the reports of the
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), he said the BJP did not accept anything and was only trying to cover up. He said it was for the first time that the opposition party had run away from debate in Parliament.
Referring to the CAG report that caused uproar in Parliament, Shukla said the standard procedure is that the CAG report is sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and it is the PAC report that is discussed in Parliament.
He said since the BJP was raising the issue, the government was still ready to debate the CAG report in Parliament. The minister claimed that since the BJP knew that its chief ministers had themselves opposed the competitive bidding, they avoided the debate.
Without questioning the authority of the constitutional body like the CAG, Shukla questioned the figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore of loss. He claimed that the projected loss was supposed to be for another 35 years. At the same time, he claimed that of the 56 coal blocks allocated, the extraction was yet to start in 55, so where was the loss?
Maintaining that the UPA government had only continued with the policy adhered to by the BJP-led NDA, he asserted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had initiated the policy of competitive bidding in coal allocation, which, however, was objected to by several BJP and other chief ministers.
He said just because the BJP did not want its own chief ministers to be exposed, it stalled the functioning of Parliament, while other opposition parties, like the Left and Samajwadi Party wanted a debate on this.
High command to decide on Amarinder
Charak said only the high command could decide on whether Capt Amarinder Singh would be removed from the post of the Punjab Congress chief.
"Amarinder had offered to resign after taking moral responsibility for the Congress' defeat in the Punjab assembly polls. However, the high command has still not taken any decision so Amarinder will continue to head the Congress," said Charak.
Asked about the possibility of the Punjab Congress joining hands with PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal, Capt Amarinder said he had offered the PPP along with the CPI, CPM and BSP to join hands only to stage a protest against the SAD-BJP's anti-people policies. "I have never offered Manpreet Badal or any other leader to join the Congress," he said.
Conspicuous by absence
Senior leaders Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Jagmeet Singh Brar, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Partap Singh Bajwa and Mohinder Singh Kaypee failed to make it to the PPCC office in Chandigarh.