The UPA government will make a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of missing files on coal blocks allocation, which rocked the House on Monday, with the Opposition smelling a conspiracy to save Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla gave the assurance to the agitated members, who wondered how the files went missing and if there was an attempt at covering up the scam in the allocation in a bid to save Dr. Singh, who earlier held the coal portfolio. The Minister, however, did not state when Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal would make a statement.

Dharmendra Pradhan (BJP), raising the issue during zero hour, alleged that there was an attempt to scuttle the CBI probe into Coalgate. Did the Coal Ministry have a hand in misplacing the files to save Dr. Singh? What notings of the PMO did the files contain that these had to be prevented from becoming part of the investigation process, Mr. Pradhan asked.

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley assailed the treasury benches for their silence, saying that would give room for suspicion of elimination of evidence.

The government would have to respond to the “sudden revelation” that the files had gone missing, which had ramifications for three aspects of investigation — identification of the beneficiaries of coal allocation, and the roles of the screening committee, which allotted the mines, and that of the Ministry and the PMO.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien expressed his helplessness in directing the government to make a statement as the issue was raised during zero hour, but said it was free to do so if it so desired.

The Opposition continued to demand that the Prime Minister and the Coal Minister come and make a statement in the House.

M. Venkaiah Naidu and Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the BJP wanted the Chair to direct the government to make a statement in view of the seriousness of the matter. Eventually, Mr. Shukla promised the members that the government would respond to their queries.

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