Sushma hints a climbdown, party questions double standard
Sushma Swaraj refrained from reiterating PM's resignation as a pre-condition for allowing Parliament to debate the matter, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said it is the Opposition party's right to demand political accountability from him.delhi Updated: Sep 02, 2012 09:58 IST
The main Opposition party BJP seems to be divided over demanding the Prime Minister's resignation over the coal block allocation issue.
While Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and senior party leader Sushma Swaraj on Saturday refrained from reiterating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation as a pre-condition for allowing Parliament to debate the matter, chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the double standards.
Swaraj had tweeted late Friday night about Congress president Sonia Gandhi's talks with her to end the monsoon session impasse.
"Yes, Mrs Gandhi spoke to me on phone. She wanted the Parliament impasse to end by our (BJP) agreeing to a discussion. I told her the government should announce the cancellation of coal blocks (allotment) and institute a fair and independent inquiry. Then we could have a discussion," the tweet read.
While the demand for cancelling the coal block allotments — brought under the scanner by a damning CAG report — remains, the initial demand that the Prime Minister step down was not mentioned by Swaraj in her tweet.
BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was well within its rights as an Opposition party to demand political accountability from him.
"The right to ask questions and seek political, constitutional and moral accountability of the Prime Minister is indeed the constitutional and parliamentary obligation of the Opposition. And Mr Prime Minister this is not 'tu-tu, main-main'," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
"If the people have given you the mandate to govern they have also made the Opposition the custodian of their interest and we shall continue to safeguard that whether you call it 'tu-tu main main' or seek solace in an Urdu couplet."
Saying that the Prime Minister's tenure was ridden with scams, Prasad added, in a reference to Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, that ministers had lobbied with the Prime Minister to secure benefits for their kin and he had facilitated this.
"Why should there be double standards if A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran were forced to resign because of a CBI inquiry? How can Dr Manmohan Singh remain Prime Minister when the CBI is investigating and finding irregularities even in the preliminary probe?" Prasad added.
The BJP has been saying that as the CBI is under the PM, there can't be a fair investigation in the coal block allocations till he is in office.
While some BJP leaders chose not to comment, one party leader, requesting anonymity, said: "We still demand that the PM resign, taking moral responsibility for gains of up to Rs. 1.86 lakh crore for private companies. Swaraj's tweet is only about the conditions for a discussion in Parliament."
At a recent press conference, Swaraj had said the BJP would stick to both its demands of the PM's resignation and cancellation of coal block allotments.
But the party had been isolated on the matter, with the entire Opposition seeking a debate and with even ally JD(U) falling in line reluctantly.
The Opposition party has decided to make the PM the prime target of its attack, believing that accusations of complicity in graft against the head of the government will dent the credibility of the UPA government in a major way.
With prospects of a complete washout of this session of Parliament looming large, party leaders are also touring different parts of the country to drill the message in the public mind.