The monsoon session of Parliament faces the threat of a washout, with the BJP maintaining its hard stance of demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the CAG’s coal report. The BJP is saying that if former minister A Raja had to step down for his alleged role in the 2G scam, the same logic should apply to the Prime Minister.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has also asked party MPs not to be defensive on the CAG report on coal blocks allocation and aggressively counter the BJP's onslaught against the UPA government and PM Manmohan Singh.
"We have done no wrong…there is no need to be defensive," she told a group of Congress MPs who met her soon after the BJP forced adjournment of parliament on the third consecutive day, demanding the PM's resignation over the CAG report.
The session ends on September 8. Already, three days have been lost to disruptions. Around Rs. 2 crore is wasted if the parliament does not function for one day, according to reports.
The casualty of these disruptions could be key pending legislative business at a time when the economy is looking down.
The government is expecting the passage of several bills in the ongoing session, such as the ones on land acquisition and protection of whistleblowers exposing corruption, apart from discussions on the drought situation and FDI in retail.
While home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde met Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj on Thursday to resolve the impasse, her party refused to soften its stance. It stuck to its demand for Singh’s resignation despite many non-Congress parties, such as the TDP, BJD and Left, wanting a debate on the CAG report that puts the losses in coal block allocations at Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
Ally JD(U) has expressed unease with the BJP’s line, but its leader Sharad Yadav said the NDA was united in demanding that Singh step down.
The BJP also maintained a tough line on the joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probing the 2G scam.
"We walked out of a JPC meeting (on Wednesday) as there cannot be a fair probe without questioning the Prime Minister and the finance minister. We are awaiting the JPC chairman's response and will decide future action accordingly," said Yashwant Sinha, senior BJP leader and JPC member.
He cited precedents, saying a JPC could call cabinet ministers as witnesses. Clearly, the BJP isn't seeking an exit route and wants to corner the government. "Why should we seek an exit route?" asked a party leader. "It suits us to keep pushing the idea that the Congress is the fountainhead of corruption."
The government believes the crisis may get defused on Monday when Swaraj meets leaders of non-Congress parties, but BJP leaders said there would be no climbdown.
The party wants to win over other non-Congress parties on the issue and isolate the Congress.
A meeting called by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari on Thursday couldn't resolve the deadlock. While the government - backed by the NCP and RJD - offered a statement by the Prime Minister followed by a debate, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said accountability was key to parliamentary democracy and the functioning of the House depended on the government's actions.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury suggested that the Prime Minister call a meeting of Leaders of Opposition in both Houses to resolve the impasse.