BJP firm on demand, says nothing less than PM's resignation will do
Unfazed by the Prime Minister's 32-point statement in Parliament and dwindling support from other parties, BJP today said it will not retreat from its demand for Manmohan Singh's resignation and alleged that he delayed coal block auctions for undue benefits to Congress.delhi Updated: Aug 27, 2012 23:30 IST
Unfazed by the Prime Minister's 32-point statement in Parliament and dwindling support from other parties, BJP on Monday said it will not retreat from its demand for Manmohan Singh's resignation and alleged that he delayed coal block auctions for undue benefits to Congress.
Singh's appeal to BJP to agree to a debate on the coal block allegations fell on deaf ears with the main opposition launching a direct attack on the PM.
BJP claimed it has the support of NDA allies and parties like AIADMK and will continue to press for the PM's resignation on moral grounds.
"Congress has got a fat sum from coal block allocation, that is why this delay (in amending the laws) was caused. My charge is that huge revenue was generated but it did not go to the government and went to the Congress party," Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters.
Slamming Singh's statement disputing CAG's findings, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said it was an assault on constitutionalism and constitutional authority.
BJP demanded cancellation of all 142 coal blocks alloted since 2006 and insisted that these be auctioned.
"If an impartial probe is conducted, I can say with full responsibility as Leader of Opposition that Congress will be in the dock along with the government," Swaraj said.
Asked if BJP is alone on this issue as even its allies have indicated that they would like a debate in Parliament on the issue, Jaitley said, "We don't stand alone. And on corruption even if we have to fight alone it would be majestic isolation. The support of the people is with us."
Swaraj claimed allies SAD, JD(U) and Shiv Sena were with the BJP and even parties like AIADMK were supporting NDA on the demand for PM's resignation.
BJP said as minister in-charge of coal ministry, PM was morally responsible and he should step down.
"We charge that the moral responsibility for this lies with the Prime Minister. He should accept it and resign," Swaraj said.
The main opposition said it remains firm on its demand even after Singh's statement and there is no question of retreating from its position.
BJP alleged that by disputing CAG's observations on the coal block allocation anomalies Singh has attacked the constitutional authority.
"UPA tries to subvert constitutional authority and when it does not succeed it attacks the authority.... It is a defiance of ethics in governance and polity," Jaitley said.
BJP charged that Singh is directly responsible for the delay in bringing about an amendment to the Mines and Minerals Act to make auctions mandatory in coal allocations as bringing "revenue" to Congress party was the aim.
"If the purpose behind allocation of coal mines was saving time, getting more GDP growth, and power generation it has been defeated... Mining has been negligible in these 142 mines. Between 2004 to 2012, their contribution to GDP growth has been nil," Jaitley said.
He added that if the government really felt competitive bidding was needed it should have brought an ordinance.
He alleged that there seems to be no basis on which these block allocations were made. Moreover, while only 70 coal blocks were allotted between 1994 and 2006 - and most of these were for public sector units - 142 blocks have been alloted from 2006 till on Monday.
"Besides loss to the exchequer, the rational for cancellation of these 142 blocks is that nobody should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of a corrupt allotment at the cost of public exchequer," Jaitley said.
Jaitley alleged that though Singh began his statement by saying he takes full responsibility for the coal block allocations, "step by step" he transferred this responsibility on others.
"The first responsibility he puts is on the federal structure saying law-making is time consuming. According to the Prime Minister, parliamentary democracy is responsible for the delay. As PM, his priority seems to be that GDP growth should not suffer," Jaitley said.
He further alleged that the law ministry is also responsible for the delay as it kept changing its stand.
The BJP leader charged that PM has said loss figures are wrong as there are mistakes in the calculations made by CAG.
"It does not behove a Prime Minister to blame a Constitutional institution (CAG)," Jaitley said.
Defending the demand for cancellation of coal block allocations and auctioning of the same, Swaraj said BJP stand on 2G spectrum allocations was vindicated by the recent re-auction which had a base price of Rs 14,000 Crore.
Swaraj also mocked at Singh's use of poetry, saying when a person feels that by speaking out his honour will be destroyed he should keep silent.
"By answering our questions the Prime Minister would have only been exposed and lost his honour," she said.