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Coal-gate: Cong dares BJP to make public bribery proof

August 27, 2012 20:02 IST
Rejecting the Bharatiya Janata Party's charge that bribes were paid to it in coal blocks allocation, the Congress on Monday dared it to make public any proof it had and asked the opposition party to "look within" as its former president had been jailed for graft.

Stung by the opposition's continued tirade against the government on coal block allocation, the ruling party also questioned the legal mandate of the CAG to prepare such reports and accused the BJP of making "very crude attempts" to gain "very cheap popularity".

Hitting out at BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's remarks that the Congress has got a "fat sum" from coal block allocation, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said it could be the "BJP's culture" and pointed to the case former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, who was convicted of accepting bribe from a fictitious arms dealer to facilitate a defence deal.

"The BJP seems to be remembering old traditions. Twenty-four out of 39 coal blocks allocated between 1998 to 2004 (NDA regime) were given to private companies. Did this happen in lieu of some political donation. This 'mota maal' and 'chhota mal' (fat sum or small sum) can be in BJP's culture. That is not the Congress culture. One of their former president was sentenced to jail term for such 'chhota maal' (small sum). One should look within first before casting aspersions on others," Tewari said, adding, "We want to give the BJP a challenge to make public if they have any such proof."

Replying to questions on whether the government has any plan to bring a confidence motion, Tewari said, "At this point what we want is a discussion. We have got a mandate for five years...If somebody is feeling a bit itchy after remaining out of power for last eight years, there are Constitutional instrumentalities. They are free to explore the instrumentalities."

A party leader speaking separately on the condition of anonymity said that the BJP is free to bring a no-confidence motion if it is so sure of its strength of toppling the government.

At the All India Congress Committee briefing, Tewari said the UPA had the numbers in 2008 and similarly it has the numbers this time also.

"The BJP had not allowed the PM to speak in the House during the 2008 trust vote, levelled baseless allegations and displayed wads of cash on the floor of House in a contempt of the Parliament. It had to face the music for it and bite the dust in 2009 general elections. In 2012, this time again, the same condemnable and shameful gesture was displayed, the BJP is not allowing the PM to make his statement," Tewari said.

Swaraj had charged that "huge revenue was generated but it did not go to the government and went to the Congress party".

Tewari accused the BJP of practising "double standards" on the CAG reports saying such findings are dubbed hypothetical by the opposition party, when they concern the states governed by them.

Targeting CAG, Tewari said, "The manner in which all these reports are being compiled...this is beyond the legal mandate of the CAG.... There is nothing, which gives the CAG the legal mandate to engage in this sort of exercises in which he has been indulging".

Tewari at the same time steered clear of questions on whether he felt the CAG was working with any political motive saying that it is "not the remit of any political party" to attach motives to Constitutional bodies. He strongly defended the government for refuting the "computations" by the CAG.

"To hold a CAG report flawed on the basis of facts is no contempt of any Constitutional body.... Any political party is well within its rights to question and dispute the findings the CAG or any other Constitutional body arrive at," he said.

Slamming PM's statement disputing CAG's findings, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Monday said it was an assault on constitutionalism and constitutional authority.

 

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