The government on Monday rejected the Bharatiya Janata Party's allegation of bribes having been paid to the Congress in coal block allocations and ruled out bringing a confidence motion in Lok Sabha or sine die adjournment of Parliament.
At a hurriedly-called press conference to rebut BJP's charges on the coal block allocation issue, Finance Minister P Chidambaram termed as "unfortunate" use of phrase 'mota maal' (hefty sums for Congress party) by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and said BJP should avoid such words.
"I outright reject (the allegations)," he said when asked to comment on BJP's allegation that Congress received bribes in coal block allocation. "It was most unfortunate and unbecoming of the Leader of Opposition to make sweeping allegations."
The minister appealed to the opposition, especially the BJP, to come to the Parliament and discuss the statement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"The prime minister has made a long and detailed statement which deserves to be debated. If there is anyone who has serious differences, he must seize the opportunity of prime minister's offer of debate," he said.
Chidambaram also rejected criticism of the CAG's findings in the PM's statement, saying fair criticism of constitutional authorities is permitted.
To a question, he ruled out the government bringing a confidence motion in Lok Sabha, saying the "The government enjoys confidence of the Parliament and the government enjoys the confidence of the people."
"There is no reason for us to seek a vote of confidence," he said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, who also addressed the press conference, ruled out sine die adjournment of the Parliament in the face of BJP's obstructionist tactics.
"There is no such thinking on the part of the government. This session will go on till September 7," she said.
Maintaining that the place for discussion was not outside, Chidambaram told the Leaders of Opposition in both houses that the best place would be the Parliament where the government and the PM will respond.
"That alone advances Parliamentary democracy," he said adding that every day that passes without debate was a slap on the face of democracy.
On the allegations of bribe, he said such phrase should be avoided in a civilised debate. "If you can accuse the UPA government of 'mota maal', then what about the allocations made between May 1998 and May 2004 (during NDA rule). They should avoid sweeping allegations," he said questioning the allocations made during the National Democratic Alliance rule between May 1998 and May 2004.
Chidambaram said the PM's statement was absolutely clear, self-contained, well drafted, carefully worded and that deserved careful study.
"Unfortunately, the Leaders of the Opposition have refused to join the debate in Parliament," he said.
Rejecting the BJP's contention that a debate would "dilute" the issue, Chidambaram wondered, "How can a debate dilute anything? This is an extraordinary argument. A debate can only enlighten and clarify matters."
To a question on how long the deadlock would continue, he said that the government would report to the Parliament every day and try to participate in the debate.
Asked whether the logjam meant that no reforms measures would be passed during the current session, Chidambaram said he sincerely hoped that the pressure of their own allies, constituents and well-meaning critics would persuade the BJP to return to the Parliament and participate in the debate."