The coalgate scandal, unleashed by the CAG report on coal block allocations has seen yet another political standoff between the beleagured government and a fired up opposition. THe BJP led opposition has been obstructing Parliament in what they say is a ‘legitimate’ strategy to force the Prime Minister to resign. The government says Manmohan Singh‘s resignation is out of the question and has asked the BJP to debate on the floor if they feel they have a point.
Things came to a further head when five BJP leaders walked out of a Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting to discuss the 2G scandal. This is a short wrap of who has been saying what:
JPC Chairman says he has no clue why the BJP members walked out of meeting
The Joint Parliament Commitee chairman said that the meeting started with the preparation of the list of witnesses to be summoned and it was during the discussion on it that the BJP MPs got up and left.
“Unimportant names can be left out…22 members who were present gave their opinion. We did not take a final decision on the list of witnesses,” PC Chacko, Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, said
The members representing the BJP walked out of the committee without any provocation,” he said.
“I asked them, tell us at least why you are walking out?” Chacko said.
BJP accuses Congress MPs of using ‘foul language’ in JPC meet
All of us put forward our demands with regards to the witnesses who should appear before the JPC, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said.
“They began using foul language against us. The Chairman made no comment on it despite some of them making accusations against us. As the Chairman refused to comment on it we decided to walk out,” Sinha said.
He said that the BJP would be fine tuning its strategy for tomorrow.
Now the only question is: what exactly did the Congress MPs say that was so offensive? Or is that what happens in a JPC meet, stays in a JPC meet?
BJP’s rationale for walking out of JPC probing 2G spectrum scam
BJP MPs Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Dharmendra Pradhan and Ravi Shankar Prasad walked out of the meeting which was expected to finalise the list of persons who shall depose before the Committee.
“It is a kangaroo court, so we came out,” one BJP member said.
The JPC has 30 members — 20 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha — representing different parties. PTI
BJP walks out of Joint Parliamentary Committee created to probe 2G scandal
Five members of the BJP that were part of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the illegal sale of 2G spectrum have reportedly walked out of a meeting, saying that it was a ‘Kangaroo court’, CNN IBN reported.
The BJP had wanted to summon Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before it, but the request had been refused by Congress members of the JPC.
Furthermore, the BJP has taken exception to the fact that the Congress wants to summon former NDA Telecom Minister Arun Shourie before it, for his perceived involvement in the scam.
After a day of acrimony in Parliament, the BJP seems to have taken it a step further. There is still no word on whether this is a temporary situation, or a permanent state of affairs.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi says BJP is being unreasonable
“The BJP can raise whatever questions they want in Parliament and the government will respond to it. They are neither willing to say anything or debate anything. It is very bad for Parliament,” the Congress spokesperson said.
The BJP should play the role of the Opposition constructively, Alvi added.
“Others opposed to the government follow more democratic means like protesting at Jantar Mantar to protest against the government, whereas the BJP refuses to do so,” he said.
“In the six years of the BJP rule, not one coal block was auctioned off. Why is this not being questioned?” he said.
Some states had written saying that there should be no auction of coal blocks, whereas now the BJP is singing a different tune, Alvi said.
Sriprakash Jaiswal blames the BJP states
The Coal Minister accused the Opposition of staying away from a debate on Coalgate, and said the BJP ruled states had opposed the bidding for coal blocks when the government had decided to allocate the coal blocks.
The minister said he was willing to put forward the letter given by Chief Ministers, particularly those of BJP ruled states, in which they had opposed the auction of coal blocks and preferred discretionary allocations.
He also claimed the CAG reports and the subsequent controversy are being used to target the few honest leaders in the country.
“The few honest people in the country are being targetted with this,” Jaiswal said.
If the CBI says that a particular company has fudged the details of its finances to get a coal block allocation then we will take back the mine allocated and will ensure the company faces punishment for it, he said.
BJP says Prime Minister should resign over CAG report
“As A Raja had to go for 2G scam, and Dayanidhi Maran had to resign for his role in Aircel-Maxis deal, similarly the
then Coal Minister Manmohan Singh has to go,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Jaitley says BJP is not interested in a debate
BJP leader and Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, categorically stated that they would obstruct Parliament from working until the Prime Minister resigned over his perceived role in the Coalgate scam.
“When the 2G scam broke in 2010, it was the BJP’s Parliamentary pressure that prompted A Raja to resign as Telecom Minister. Hopefully it will work again”, he said in an interview to the Times Now television channel, adding that Parliamentary obstructionism was a legitimate means by which the Opposition could pressure the government.
Jaitley also dismissed the possibility of a debate on the floor of the house, indicating that there seemed to be no middle path in the ongoing standoff that has paralyzed the monsoon session of Parliament.
“We are not interested in a debate. What is there to debate? The Prime Minister was coal minister during a time period where coal block allocations were given to private companies at the cost of the public sector”, he said.
The BJP leader was equally dismissive of the possibility of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) looking into the CAG report.
“We do not want a discussion of the CAG report. We have had bad experiences on these discussions in the past with the 2G scam”, he said.
Manish Tewari asks BJP to debate if it has a point
The Congress party remained defiant, asking the opposition to initiate a debate on the floor of the house if they felt they had a valid case.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said that it was up to the opposition to decide if it wanted a democracy or a mobocracy. “If they feel they have a point, let them debate it on the floor. The Congress is ready to match them point for point”, he said.