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Govt saves day as Oppn has its say

delhi Updated: Sep 05, 2013 02:02 IST
Shekhar Iyer
coal files

The government at last made peace with the opposition to let Parliament legislate key bills. It let top BJP leaders have their views heard in the two Houses on the missing coal ministry files and demand Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “voluntarily” depose before the CBI probing the Rs 1.86 crore scam relating to allotment of mines to private companies and file a FIR in this regard, as also suggested by the Supreme Court.

The back-room parleys between the government side, led by Union ministers P Chidambaram and Kamal Nath, with the BJP finally culminated in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha take up impromptu short duration discussions on the missing coal files issue to end the stand-off.

The stalemate was triggered because the opposition was cut up as the PM left immediately after making a statement in both Houses a day earlier. The opposition leaders had wanted to quiz him.

The PM, who had earlier defiantly said that he was “not the custodian of files”, had said in a statement that it would be premature to say that files were missing or “that there is something fishy.”

After the peace pact, in the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said she did not believe that the files had just gone missing and contended that it was a case of theft and demanded immediate registration of an FIR.

Swaraj said the alleged coal mine allotment scam amounted to R1.86 lakh crore. An impression had gained that the government had a “lot to hide” and the case might meet a “dead end”in case the government did not register the FIR, it would be construed that it has much to hide.

She said the PM held the coal portfolio between 2006 and 2009. “If the Prime Minister wants to see himself come clean on this issue, he should himself come forward and offer to depose before the CBI,” she said. referring to a media report that a key CBI official has recommended his “examination.”

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said, “The only evidence is oral evidence. The person who took the decisions has to be examined. But documentary evidence is bein destroyed and oral evidence is not being allowed. How does this investigation proceed?”

Both Swaraj and Jaitely issued a joint statement later to demand that the government clearly say whether the CBI investigating officer, KR Chaurasia, had wanted the PM to be examined.

“The material on basis of which he wanted to examine the PM must be disclosed. The reasons on basis of which the PM’s examination is not being permitted should also be made public.”