Parliament disrupted over coal scam; govt says will push food bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday
The issue of missing files relating to coalgate paralysed proceedings in Parliament today with BJP demanding an immediate response from PM Manmohan Singh, even as the govt said it will leave no stone unturned in tracing the documents. POLL:Is the Food Security Bill good for the country?|delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2013 14:10 IST
The issue of missing files relating to coalgate paralysed proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday with BJP demanding an immediate response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, even as the government said it will leave no stone unturned in tracing the documents.
Amid cries of "shame-shame" and "pradhan mantri jawab do", Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj raised the issue and said the Prime Minister should come to the House and assure members that the CBI probe will not be hampered due to the missing files.
She said as the Prime Minister had recently taken full responsibility in the Lok Sabha, it was incumbent upon him to take the House into confidence as to what had happened to the 147 missing files.
Claiming that the files included applications for coal blocks, she alleged that they have gone missing as some big shots of the Congress were involved.
Swaraj wanted the Speaker to direct the Prime Minister to come to the House and make a statement. Singh had held the coal portfolio from 2006 to 2009 when the coal blocks were allocated.
Rajya Sabha also witnessed uproar after which coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal made a statement saying that a committee has been constituted to go into the issue of missing files which has held two meetings.
"I would like to assure the House that my ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI," he said.
Jaiswal said he was ready to undergo any punishment if his involvement was established.
But, the opposition was not satisfied with the statement with Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley finding loopholes asking whether any FIR has been lodged by the coal ministry about missing files.
The uproar led to adjournment of Lok Sabha till 1 PM and Rajya Sabha till 2 PM.
As Rajya Sabha met for the day, BJP members started demanding statement from the Prime Minister on the missing files.
M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said the Prime Minister should come to the House and assure it that the files are safe. He demanded that the issue related with files should be taken up first.
Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, who came to the House after the first adjournment, tried to make a statement, but BJP members insisted that it should come from none other than the Prime Minister. Jaiswal could not complete his statement.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the coal scam as the biggest one and alleged that some of the missing files are related with companies associated with members of the ruling party.
"We want it (statement) from the Prime Minister. Serious questions are being raised about the Minister," he said.
TDP MPs were in the Well with their protest entering the third week. MPs from Congress opposing creation of Telangana held placards and shouted slogans from their benches.
On the other hand, the government has decided to push Food Security Bill in Parliament on Thursday and said it will "try its level best" to secure the passage of the bill in House.
The bill, expected to be a game-changer for the ruling Congress ahead of five assembly polls this year-end and the 2014 general elections, aims to provide subsidised food grain at prices much below the market rate to around 67% of India's 1.2 billion people. The bill would thus benefit about 800 million people.
"We will be trying our level best to get the food bill passed. We are talking to everybody (all political parties)," minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla told reporters in New Delhi.
Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said: "We will use all rules to ensure that the House runs."
Food minister KV Thomas said he was confident of getting the legislation passed. "I am always a confident man. It is a very important bill."
The government is keen to secure passage of the food security bill, which is Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's pet welfare legislation, but is concerned over the large number of amendments (over 260) moved by opposition parties.
Both Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have indicated their support for the bill, but have demanded certain changes in the legislation.
BSP supremo Mayawati said: "We support the bill as it is for the poor, but we want certain changes for which we will move amendments."
The bill, part of the Congress manifesto for the 2009 polls, is expected to bring it electoral benefits, just as the rural job plan did.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme is considered responsible for the second term that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) won in the 2009 polls.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)
First Published: Aug 20, 2013 11:03 IST