3:00 pm: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defends himself, says he won’t quit
Speaking aboard his official plane while returning to India from Iran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ruled out resigning from office due to pressure from the Opposition.
“I have to maintain the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister, says PM Manmohan Singh on the recent attacks on him,” Manmohan Singh said.
PM: Cant get into a tu-tu mai-mai or a slanging match with other political leaders
— Firstpost (@firstpostin) अगस्त 31, 2012
“Lack of cohesive coordination in domestic politics has been a factor in country not being able to lay foundation for 9 per cent growth rate,” he said.
Speaking about the November 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai, the Prime Minister said what Pakistan did against those charged with being involved in the matter would be a test of how sincere they were.
“There must be a genuine feeling that Pakistan is doing all that it could do to deal with terrorism directed against India from Pakistani soil,” he said.
1:30 pm : Jaitley launches offensive against govt
BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s addressing one of the protest rallies organised at Jantar Mantar to protest against the government over its involvement in the coal block allocation scandal.
He’s not saying anything he’s not said before. He accused the Congress of failing to auction coal blocks, corruption and failing to achieve the economic growth it promised.
12:45 pm: Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay defends himself
The Tourism Minister defends himself against allegations that he was one of the beneficiaries of coal block allocations.
“Without state recommendation, coal blocks have not been allocated,” he said.
He accused the BJP of spreading lies about him and said he had decided to come out and defend himself after reading reports alleging his involvement in being favoured during the coal block allocations.
Sahay also alleges that the BJP is making the allegations to come to power in the government but “their dream will never come true.”
However, he admits that a firm in which his brother worked was given a coal block, but he did not influence the selection process in any way as has been claimed by the Opposition.
12:10 pm: Rajya Sabha also adjourned till Monday
As the Deputy Chairman seemed to be able to go through with some work despite the MPs shouting slogans, the BJP MPs quickly changed tack and invaded the well of the House where they continued shouting slogans.
“Is this the place for slogan shouting?,” a bemused PJ Kurien asked the slogan shouting MPs in the well of the House. He didn’t get a response though.
MoS V Narayanasamy also attempted to get the Opposition MPs to get back into their seats. However, he also failed. After being unable to placate the members, Kurien decided to adjourn the house for the day.
Rajya Sabha was then adjourned till 3 September.
So that’s that then. Eight days and perhaps less than an hour of business transacted in Parliament. It’s safe to guess the BJP MPs are making a beeline for the protest rallies that they have planned against the government.
12:05 pm: Lok Sabha adjourned till Monday
After attempting to continue through the din, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till Monday. A full four minutes of business transacted.
Meanwhile in the Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien managed to out-shout the BJP MPs and continued to try and get some tasks completed. It didn’t stop the sloganeering though.
12:00 pm: Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha resume
Parliament resumes but it seems to be a lost cause with MPs from the BJP continuing to prefer to shout slogans rather than listen to anything the Treasury benches have to say.
However, proceedings are still on. For now.
11:50 am: Digvijaya Singh defends his comments on CAG
“I stand by my statements,” Digvijaya Singh told CNN IBN in an exclusive interview when asked about his statements alleging that the CAG may have had political ambitions while making the report on coal block allocations public.
He denied that his statements were the view of the Congress party and pointed out that he was not a spokesperson for the party.
“This is my perception and I am allowed to have my own opinion,” he said.
When it was pointed out that he had attempted to question the intentions of people like Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev in the past just like with the CAG, the Congress leader said, “Every word that I have said about these people has come true.”
11:15 am: A practical solution from Shashi Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has taken the moral high ground and says that BJP MPs who do not want to engage in Parliamentary debate should be sent out.
Parliament adjourned again. I believe disrupters should be suspended a/c2 the rules so the rest of us can get on with the nation’s business.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) अगस्त 31, 2012
Don’t understand why any1 would want2get elected2 Parliament if they don’t wish2participate in its work. Or why people should vote4such MPs!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) अगस्त 31, 2012
But will this work long term or would it just end up getting misused by the government in power? Another suggestion from our sports team is that they should have a red card system like in football in Parliament in order to ensure order in Parliament. What could the fine for Parliamentarians who don’t abide by the rules be? A day’s salary?
11:10 am: Mulayam promises to keep alliance with Left, TDP alive to protest against govt, BJP
Mulayam Singh has promised that the alliance that protested against the Parliamentary disruption and the government over the CAG report will continue to do so in the future.
He also promised to take their agitation to the streets demanding an impartial probe into the CAG report and that Parliament be allowed to function.
“We will not remain silent. We will go across the country and tell people,” he said
This alliance will remain for the future, he said.
The Left and TDP also promised to continue their support for the protest being led by Mulayam Singh. While they’re united on this protest, there’s still no talk of a third front or anything of the kind yet. But is this the beginning of one?
What this does mean though is that there are more political rallies to come. Apparently all the parties are more happy to take the debate to the streets than debating it in Parliament, ironically, where they are supposed to.
11:05 am: Both Houses of Parliament adjourned, again
After the din in Parliament, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned today till 12 pm.
And this despite the Mulayam Singh-led protest outside Parliament today. Will he now take his protest inside Parliament?
11:00 am: Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha continue to witness disruptions
As promised by the BJP, their MPs are up on their feet and shouting slogans against the UPA government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While they may not be as loud as always, they’re still effective in preventing Parliament from working.
10:55 am: BJP attacks Digvijaya over CAG comments, defends strategy to block Parliamentary debate
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain is the first of the leaders of the Opposition to respond to Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s allegations and said
“The CAG had exposed the 2G scam and the coal block allocations. There are many other CAG reports that implicate the Congress and just to trick the people and retain power they are attacking it. However, the people will decide who will come to power and not Digvijaya Singh,” he said.
“For him to make this kind of allegations is to attack a constitutional body,” the BJP leader said.
He also said there was no question of the BJP backing down in Parliament and letting it function.
“We are unmoved in our protest in Parliament and our demand that the Prime Minister resign. If Parliament is to function then the government should listen to the demands of the Opposition,” he said
In this case there is no question of anything rising from debate, Hussain said.
10:45 am : Digvijaya Singh says BJP’s strategy is a result of the party consisting of various factions
The Congress leader accused the biggest Opposition party of tricking people by staying away from a Parliamentary debate and said the party was split up into various factions.
“Instead of rallies and fooling people why don’t they have a Parliamentary debate and tell people of the parties relationship with the Bellary brothers and other groups,” he said.
Saying the protest rally and Parliamentary disruptions are the result of a part that had too many factions, Singh said that the party leadership was undecided on how to handle
“Many of their leaders have called us telling us ‘Tell our leaders what to do, we can’t do it’, ” he said, adding the BJP should come back to Parliament to create laws that can benefit people.
It’s perhaps just a matter of time before the BJP responds to this.
10:30 am: Digvijaya Singh attacks CAG, BJP and says he’s never wrong
Digvijaya Singh of the Congress addresses the first of many press conferences likely today and takes on the CAG over its report on coal block allocations.
Defending the UPA government over its policies, Singh said, “The figures being given by the CAG are what I have a problem with. It has no basis.”
I would appeal to the CAG to discuss openly the loss they are talking about so that the number can be properly assessed, he said.
“The past CAGs they never sensationalised any issue and were constitutionally correct on everything they did….They never went to the press. It is the first time that members of the CAG went to the press. If they want to set a precedent, they should realise what they are doing,” Singh said.
He said the government was only following the existing policy and highlighted the process through which coal blocks were made.
“The Opposition is saying that despite not having a majority they want the Prime Minister to resign. Why should the government listen to the party?” he said.
He accused the BJP of being a face of the RSS and accused the right-wing body of not believing in democracy.
He also said he had never been proven wrong on previous claims made by him. Hmmm, really now?
10:15 am: MPs from the Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party and Left begin their protest outside Parliament, demand CAG report to be heard in Supreme Court.
They were a little over 10 to 15 in number and but then the number could rise as the protest progressed.The MPs shouted slogans against Parliament being disrupted and demanding the CAG report on coal block allocations be probed by a former Supreme Court judge.
The Samajwadi Party had reached out to various parties including the Trinamool Congress, CNN IBN reported. After her experience in the Presidential poll, it’s no surprise that there were no TMC MPs supporting the protest rally led by Mulayam Singh.
A larger number of MPs from the BJP are expected to do the same kind of slogan shouting inside Parliament once the session begins.
Meanwhile the BJP is planning to protest in over 40 cities across the country against the UPA government and press for its demand of the resignation of the Prime Minister. Looks like an exciting day ahead.
9:45 am Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh is set to lead a set of varied political parties in a protest against the BJP for preventing Parliamentary debate on the CAG report on coal block allocations and transacting any other business.
The Samajwadi Party, Left parties and TDP are expected to protest outside Parliament over both the Houses not being allowed to function.
While the Samajwadi Party has denied that this is an indication of the formation of a third front, many see this as a show of strength by Yadav, who has been supporting the UPA alliance in power without joining it.
Firstpost had pointed out yesterday that the driving force behind Mulayam Singh’s decision, along with Left leaders, to stake out a stand on the coal scam is to prevent the BJP from grabbing the entire Opposition space on this subject.
Barring the BJP and some of its allies, the other parties on the Opposition benches are not on its side on the issue of the CAG report and are endorsing a more sober approach in taking up this issue.
Parliament has not been allowed to function for seven straight days now with BJP MPs shouting slogans and walking into the wells of both Houses in order to disrupt proceedings and to press their demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign over the CAG report.