Coal-gate: PM dares BJP to have debate in Parliament
As the Bharatiya Janata Party disrupted the Parliament on the coal block issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday attacked the party and dared it to have a debate in the House to let the country judge the truth.
Soon after he was disallowed to complete a statement he made in both Houses, he talked to reporters outside Parliament House, asserting that the government has a "strong and credible case" on the coal block allocations, which has come under criticism from the CAG.
"I am sorry that the House is not allowed to function and the BJP is determined to disrupt the proceedings of Parliament. I wish to assure the country that we have a very strong and credible case," Dr Singh said.
The PM said his policy is to maintain silence on "motivated" issues but this is one occasion where he "ardently wished" that he should be given the opportunity to speak to the Parliament and to the public at large.
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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
'Observations of CAG are disputable'
Dr Singh said the CAG's conclusions on the coal block allocations were "disputable".
"The observations of CAG are disputable and they will be challenged when the matter comes before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee," Dr Singh said.
He argued that a debate should take place in Parliament and the country can judge where the truth lies.
"Once again I appeal to the opposition to come back to the House to debate on these issues and let the country judge where the truth lies," Dr Singh said.
He recited an Urdu couplet to drive home his point on his silence till now on the controversy.
"Hazaron jawabo se achchi hai Khamoshi meri, Na jaane kitne sawalo ki aabru rakhe." (My silence is better than a thousand answers, it keeps intact the honour of innumerable questions).
Image: A labourer loads coal onto a truck at a coal yard on the outskirts of Jammu
Photographs: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
'PM's statement should not be considered by Parliament'
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and former deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha Najma Heptullah said the PM's statement should not be considered by Parliament as there was no "order" in both the Houses when they were laid.
"According to me, no statement was made today. When the House is not in order, the proceeding is not on record," she told the media outside the Parliament.
"I have been deputy chairman for 18-19 years. I have said this repeatedly and today also I told the deputy chairman that...it is a rule, a convention and a record that if House is not in order, than no proceeding should not come to record," she said to buttress her point.
Further, she accused the government of adopting two yardsticks as it allowed former telecom minister A Raja to resign following CAG report on 2G allocation but is shielding the prime minister on the coal allocation scam.
'PM in middle of scam to magnitude of Rs 1.86 lakh crore'
BJP leader Balbir Punj told reporters outside Parliament, "The prime minister must resign. The country today needs no statement or speeches but action. When there is such serious allegation against PM, he should have resigned of its own following democratic tradition."
Punj said, "We are clear from the day one when the CAG report came. He (PM) is in the middle of the suspicion for the scam of the magnitude of Rs 1.86 lakh crore."
Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were repeatedly disrupted by BJP members demanding resignation of the PM.
Justifying the demand, Punj said "In order to have an independent and impartial probe, the propriety and tradition demand that the PM should step aside so that an independent probe is possible into the entire episode. But he (PM) is hiding behind technicality like making a statement first. People want action there have been enough statement."
Asked to comment on ally Akali Dal's stand that they want to hear PM's statement, Punj said "The decision to seek PM's resignation and obstruct Parliament was taken by the NDA and every constituent was party to it and they would bound by it."
His party colleague Vinay Katiyar said, "The statement made by PM was a laughing stock."
Image: People shout slogans as they hold posters of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a protest against corruption in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters