Manmohan’s statement in Parliament “extremely defensive’’

The CPI(M), CPI, All India Forward Bloc and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have demanded the cancellation of allocation of 142 coal blocks and a thorough probe into the matter.

Describing as “extremely defensive’’ Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in Parliament on the issue, they criticised him for his remarks on the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG).

At a joint press conference here on Monday after the Prime Minister’s statement, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta accused Dr. Singh of having no “respect’’ for the Constitution as the CAG is a constitutional body.

While Mr. Dasgupta sought a judicial probe by a Supreme Court judge into the issue, the CPI(M) wanted a thorough probe, which could be a judicial probe as well, to fix the responsibility on the individual responsible for the scam however high post he may hold.

Refuting the charge that the former West Bengal government supported the allocation process, senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury quoted the State government’s letters of August 2009 and March 2010, saying it had “never opposed competitive bidding.”

The State’s Left Front had insisted that “the interests of the States should not be bartered away to private companies” and coal blocks allocated to electricity boards, power PSUs and all public utility services. “What remains after that should be auctioned. That was the stand of the Left Front government,’’ he said.

Mr. Yechury accused the Congress and the BJP of colluding to evade any discussion on the matter in Parliament as it would “expose’’ both. “It appears to be a case of match-fixing,’’ he said.

On the Prime Minister’s statement, he said it was “extremely defensive and laboured,” as Dr. Singh had tried to “shift the entire blame on the State governments and the delay in the law-making process.’’

TDP’s Nama Nageshwara Rao sought the cancellation of all allotments.

While Barun Mukherjee of the Forward Bloc said the CAG report should be discussed in Parliament, D. Raja of the CPI said the CAG report had specifically mentioned “financial gains to private outfits’’ unlike in the case of 2G spectrum allocation where the losses were described as “presumptive.’’

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