Undeterred by the growing unease among sections of the Opposition on the continued disruption of Parliament over the coal blocks allocation, the BJP has made it clear that it will stall proceedings in both Houses until its demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is met.
On Saturday, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said that in the battle against the “monumental corruption,” all parties, including the ruling UPA allies, must decide on which side of the fence they were on. He was responding to a question at a news conference here whether his party was isolated because of its strategy to disrupt Parliament. “Those who keep silent will do a greater damage than those actually involved.”
By fielding Mr. Jaitley, the BJP has sent out a loud and clear message: it will not relent on its demand even if it means the washout of the monsoon session, which will end on September 8.
All parties are worried that if a way out is not found by Monday, the chances of Parliament functioning next week are limited.
The Prime Minister will leave for Tehran on Tuesday to take part in the NAM Summit and will be back only on August 31.
Mr. Jaitley came down heavily on Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram for his defence of the government, terming his explanation “preposterous.” “These repeated propounders of the zero loss theory must now realise that the UPA is losing the confidence of the people. If they pursue policies of this kind, the UPA’s continuation in power with this kind of performance is really a zero sum game of the UPA itself.”
Recalling the zero loss analogy used by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal in the 2G spectrum case, Mr. Jaitley said Mr. Chidambaram had not learnt his lessons from Mr. Sibal’s bitter experience and “has tried to take it further.”
As for Mr. Chidambaram’s contention that the question of loss did not arise at all as the blocks were not mined, he said that once the allocations were made, the value of the 142 blocks skyrocketed in the market. “Once the blocks are allotted to private parties, the right to mine lies with the allottees and not with the government of India. Even without … mining, the government has lost control of these mines.”
The government’s decision conferred windfall gains on private parties and caused a corresponding loss to the exchequer. “The coal, which is a mineral under mother earth, does not belong to Mr. Chidambaram’s government but to 142 private entrepreneurs.”
Instead of admitting that a monumental blunder has been committed, the government was inventing “such kind of fragile logic … to mislead the country.” “Is this kind of logic an indication for which they want a parliamentary debate? And then paralyse the PAC with this kind of logic so that the truth never comes out?” he asked.
On the BJP’s decision to disrupt Parliament, Mr. Jaitley said the strategy did not permit it to allow the government to use Parliament to end this debate without any accountability. “There are occasions when obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefit to the country.”