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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Coalgate: BJP asks PM to quit, Sonia says 'let them ask'

Agencies  New Delhi, April 23, 2013
First Published: 11:08 IST(23/4/2013) | Last Updated: 18:01 IST(23/4/2013)

Intesifying its attack on the government over the coal block allocation scam, BJP Tuesday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sacking of law minister Ashwani Kumar.

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The BJP Parliamentary Party which met in the Capital under the chairmanship of LK Advani passed a resolution in this regard and charged the government with suppressing the truth from coming out in the coal scam.

The opposition party had stalled Parliament Monday over the issue and demanded that the law minister make a statement on his alleged role in vetting the CBI affidavit for the Supreme Court on the coal scam investigation.

"The BJP Parliamentary Party today has resolved that in the light of the series of scams and the present way in which the government has sought to suppress the truth from coming out, Dr Manmohan Singh must resign and the law minister Ashwani Kumar must be sacked," BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after the meeting.

He said the party has formally demanded that the PM must resign and the law minister be sacked.

Prasad said the party is of the opinion that the UPA government under Singh has "destroyed" and "subverted" every institution in the country.

"The UPA government first indulges in corruption and then subverts institutions to suppress the truth. It stands exposed before the country. The UPA government has forfeited its right to govern. BJP demands that the Prime Minister and the law minister resign immediately," the BJP leader said.

Stepping up its attack, he said the government only wants a discussion on corruption and is not ready for any honest audit on it.

The BJP Parliamentary Party also discussed the JPC draft report on 2G and former telecom minister A Raja's contention that whatever actions he took were in the knowledge of the Prime Minister and decisions taken after consulting him.

Asked if it would raise the issue again in Parliament, Prasad said, "We will raise the matter. This government is running away. It does not want an honest discussion. This government does not allow us to question it on the irregularities committed by it. We will not support the government."

On whether both Houses of Parliament will run smoothly on Tuesday, the BJP leader said, "It is the duty of the government to run Parliament smoothly."

He alleged that there is a conscious attempt to suppress the unravelling of the truth.

"And this suppression is sought to be done at the highest level," he said.

Taking on the law minister, he said, "Since when does CBI need an English tutor like the law minister... More particularly when the Supreme Court has specifically restrained the Government of India and the CBI lawyer from sharing the contents of the affidavit with anyone."

Prasad said inspite of the assurance from the additional solicitor general in March that contents of the CBI affidavit had not been shared with any political authority, the government has "misled" the Supreme Court and now "a very fake allaby is being given that the law minister was correcting the grammer of the affidavit. This is preposterous, laughable."

"The government is trying to suppress the truth from coming out shamelessly even from the Supreme Court and then trying to give an allaby which is laughable. This is plainly not acceptable," the BJP leader said.

While BJP said in its notice that any unauthorized leak of the JPC report was a breach of privilege of Parliament and action should be initiated against those responsible for it, Dasgupta said, "The report was deliberately handed over to the press to gain political mileage. It (the leak) has violated all parliamentary norms of a JPC and Parliament has been put to shame. If this is allowed to go on then there is no need for any JPC in future."

Meanwhile, senior CPI leader and Lok Sabha MP Gurudas Dasgupta supported the BJP's demand for Singh's resignation, saying, "the Prime Minister is guilty of dereliction of duty on a number of counts."

"There are reasons for demanding his resignation. I firmly believe that the Prime Minister is guilty of dereliction of duty on a number of accounts. He has not been doing his job. He has failed to keep his commitment to the country," he charged.

'Let them ask'
Unfazed by the Opposition attack, Congress president Sonia Gandhi dismissed the demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the coalgate issue.

"Let them ask" was the terse response of Gandhi when approached by reporters on the issue after a meeting of the Congress Core Group headed by her.

"Why should we allow our opponents to get away with propagating negative impressions? You should ask them: 'what have you or your party done to change things in our country?' I have no doubt that they have no credible answer," Gandhi said.

The meeting of the Core Group was convened immediately after both Houses were adjourned over the issue for half an hour in the morning.

The meeting, which was also attended by parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath discussed the strategy ahead in wake of the Opposition reviving its attack on the government on the coalgate issue and bringing the Prime Minister as well under the target.

Keeping up the heat on the government, BJP Tuesday demanded resignation of Prime Minister on the coalgate issue.

Gandhi had Monday also given an indication of the aggression in Congress' response to the Opposition's charges.

Addressing an alumni meet of NSU, she had asked partymen to fight back by not allowing its opponents "to get away with propagating negative impressions".

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath also alleged that the BJP was using "diversionary politics by trying to draw the attention away from core issue."

"In the last nine years, the BJP has demanded the Prime Minister's resignation many many times. And there is no basis to this. The BJP is using diversionary politics by trying to draw the attention away from core issue," Nath said.

The minister's statement came after the BJP intensified its attack on the government over the coal block allocation scam and demanded the resignation of Manmohan Singh and sacking of law minister Ashwani Kumar.

"Parliamentary democracy entails debate, discussion and that has to happen on the floor of the House. It can't happen on the street. So, I believe that by dialogue, we can find convergence on all issues. That will be my effort to ensure that we have convergence," Nath told reporters outside Parliament House.

Reacting to BJP allegations, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said: "The matter is pending in the court. Therefore, it is inappropriate to go into the merits of any of the issues."

"But since the BJP wants to politicise everything, perhaps it would be appropriate from them to account for the omissions and permissions which took place in telecommunications and in coal during their regime in 1999 to 2004," the Congress leader added.

(With inputs from PTI, IANS and ANI)

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