President Pranab Mukherjee today will have his first major political issue to resolve since taking charge. After one-and-half months in office, he will meet a political delegation comprising of BJP veteran LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Leaders of Opposition of two Houses of Parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley seeking his intervention in the Coalgate issue.
At noon, the BJP leaders will plead their case before President Mukherjee and urge him to guide the government to cancel the coal block licenses allotted to 142 private players between 2006-09, the period scrutinized by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and to constitute a Commission of Inquiry headed by a sitting Supreme Court judge.
The BJP leaders are also expected to brief him on continued revelations on the alleged complicity of ruling Congress MPs and questions being raised about role of some ministers.
The delay in decision making to use auctions for allocations even as the Coal secretary in 2004 had recommended for it, is also likely to be a topic raised. The Prime Minister had favoured the auctioning of coal blocks, but the final notification on the subject took eight years to come.
This will be first interaction of BJP leaders with the President since the previous meeting where the party’s leaders complained of a violation in protocol against senior leader LK Advani on 15 August. The President had subsequently spoken to Advani and the matter was sorted out.
During the standoff between the government and the NDA over the 2G scam, Mukherjee was the leader of the House in Lok Sabha and Finance Minister, and constantly engaged with the leaders from the Opposition. Even as the Winter Session of 2010 was washed out, he succeeded in resolving the issue before the Budget Session, with the government agreeing to the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the issue.
Recently, when he was asked about the wasted Monsoon Session of Parliament during a brief interaction with media, Mukherjee said leaders of different political parties should work out a mechanism to resolve differences and ensure that institutions of Parliament can work.
The BJP is again upping the ante on Coalgate and is keen to keep the issue in the spotlight. Chief Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his election campaign on Tuesday in Gujarat by blasting the Congress over the issue. And in Delhi, the BJP Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad called for an SIT probe into the allocation of coal blocks monitored by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
But will it be the the President be able to get the Congress and BJP to see eye-to-eye again?