BJP stuck to its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation on the 'coalgate' scam and said it would not let Parliament function till he demits office owning up responsibility.
"There is no (no) question of the opposition letting off pressure on the Prime Minister to quit his office as he has been squarely responsible for the Rs 1.86 lakh crore coal scam which has taken place right under his nose as he held the coal portfolio for five years between 2005-09 in UPA I government," BJP national spokesman Ravishankar Prasad today reporters in Patna.
"The Prime Minister's resignation was all the more warranted to give CBI - probing the irregularities in coal blocks allotment - a free hand to carry out the investigation as the agency directly functions under his command," he said.
The CBI will not be able to freely discharge its duties so long as Singh remained in office as the agency will also probe his role in the capacity as the coal minister, Prasad said.
Prasad said that it was for the first time Singh has been implicated in a scam as he headed the coal ministry during which the allotment of 145 coal blocks took place.
He also tore into Union finance minister P Chidambaram's defence of the UPA government and the Prime Minister on the coal scam and said that the latter had committed a mistake similar to his colleague Kapil Sibal in the 2G scam that later turned out to be false.
BJP will continue to press for PM's resignation in Parliament
Rubbishing the no loss argument of the government in the coal block allocations, BJP today made it clear that it is in no mood to allow Parliament to function till its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation is met.
"A nation wide debate is on on this issue though it is not taking place in Parliament. Our strategy does not permit that we allow the government to use Parliament to end this debate without any accountability. We want the debate to go on further," leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi.
"There are occasions when obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefit to the country," he said.
Jaitley dismissed Chidambaram's assertion yesterday that there cannot be a loss in the coal block allocations as no mining was done in many cases.
"Kapil Sibal had propounded the zero loss theory in the 2G spectrum case... It was a bitter experience for him. He had to eat his words... finance minister P Chidambaram has not learnt lessons from Sibal's bitter experience and has tried to take it further," he said.
BJP insisted that once the coal blocks were allocated, the valuations of these 142 blocks in the market sky-rocketed.
"Once the coal blocks are alloted to private parties, the right to mine lies with the allotees and not with the Government of India. Even without actual mining the government has lost control over these mines," Jaitley said.
He maintained that there was a "huge opportunity cost" which the government has lost and termed Chidambaram's no loss theory as "preposterous".