Coal allotment: Chorus for PM’s resignation, parliament adjourned


New Delhi : A combative opposition Tuesday demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on coal block allocation, leading to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha being adjourned for the day.

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The first adjournments till noon took place soon after proceedings began in both the houses with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition seeking to raise the matter.

In the Lok Sabha, trouble over the issue did not die down when the house met after the short adjournment with the opposition rushing towards Speaker Meira Kumar’s podium.

The government said the opposition should let the house function and have a discussion on the issue. The government offered a discussion in the house with Home Minister and Leader of the House Sushilkumar Shinde saying: “We can discuss the issue. We have no objection.”

The speaker asked the opposition if it agreed to the discussion but the slogans and shouting continued, forcing her to adjourn the house for the day.

There were similar scenes in the Rajya Sabha, forcing chairperson Hamid Ansari to adjourn the house till noon.

When the house met, things were quiet for a while during which Congress member P.J. Kurien was unanimously elected deputy chairman.

Members across party lines complimented Kurien for his election to the post.

However, soon after Kurien was invited by the chair to conduct proceedings in his new role, opposition members again raised the issue of the CAG report on coal block allocation.

As the opposition raised a din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said the government was ready for a discussion. Shukla then said the BJP was running away from a discussion and that their chief ministers were involved in corruption.

As the opposition members continued raising slogans, Kurien adjourned the house for the day.

“It is the demand of the nation as people are shocked to see the way the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) regime is looting the country,” said BJP leader Prakash Javadekar.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal blamed the opposition for disrupting proceedings.

“It is unfortunate that they stalled the house and didn’t let anyone speak. We are prepared for a detailed discussion and then we will see what happens. They (BJP) want to create a situation of crisis but people should know the truth and what is their (BJP) role in coal allocation scam,” said Bansal adding that demands for the prime minister’s resignation were “baseless”.

India’s official auditor had last week revealed that the lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a loss of a whopping Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer as on March 11 last year.

The audit report does not directly indict the prime minister or his office. But during the time these mining blocks in question were allotted, the coal portfolio was held by him — between July 2004 and May 2009.