Onus on PM to accept responsibility for scam

Hopes of an end to the Opposition-Congress stand-off on the CAG report on coal vanished on Sunday with the BJP reiterating that it would not allow Parliament to function until its demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is met.

Mindful of the concerns among the other opposition parties, including the Left, over its tactics of stalling the House, the BJP reached out to them and explained why it was sticking to its demand.

Amid indications that some of the opposition parties were preparing to convince the BJP to allow Dr. Singh to explain his position, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley issued a statement explaining why his party thought that a debate and an explanation by Prime Minister in Parliament would be futile.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj called up leaders of the opposition parties individually and informed them of the BJP’s stand. She called off a formal interaction with them proposed for Monday.

CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta said: “Sushma Swaraj told us that her party cannot allow Parliament to function with the Prime Minister at the helm of affairs even if it means stretching [the protest] to the whole of the monsoon session,” scheduled to end on September 8.

Without even getting into the Congress challenge to bring a no-confidence motion, a belligerent Jaitley said: “Suggestions that the issue should be debated only in Parliament will put the lid on one of the greatest scandals in Indian history. We, in the Opposition, are not interested in the issue merely being talked out through a one-day debate.”

“The Prime Minister’s Office is a sacred institution. It has to be judged by standards much harsher than those which would apply to Ministers like Shri A. Raja. If the process of allocation [of coal blocks] by the Prime Minister as a Coal Minister smacks of arbitrariness, it shakes our national conscience. The onus is now on the Prime Minister to accept the responsibility for what has happened.”

Conceding that debate was an essential ingredient of Parliament, the BJP leader said that when parliamentary institutions were subverted and accountability was not permitted, the polity must invent new tactics so that the principle of accountability was not sacrificed. “Debate and accountability must coexist.”

Mr. Jaitley contended that but for the Opposition insistence in December 2010 on a JPC on 2G spectrum, which cost an entire winter session of Parliament, the country would not have benefited.

More In: National | News