There were sharp political reactions on Monday to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on the CAG report on allocation of 142 coal blocks. The charge was led by a belligerent BJP, which described the statement as an attack on both “a constitutional authority and constitutionalism.”

The BJP followed this up with the sensational accusation that the Congress had received hefty kickbacks for skewing the allotments in favour of a select few.

The BJP demanded cancellation of the allotments, which were a fit case for probe by a Special Investigation Team. The party made it clear that it would keep Parliament paralysed until Dr. Singh resigned owning moral responsibility for the scam. “We will not allow Parliament to function even if that leaves us in a state of magnificent isolation,” said senior leader Arun Jaitley.

Rejecting Dr. Singh’s statement, the Left parties also asked for cancellation of the entire allocations and a “thorough probe, which could be a judicial probe” into how these were made. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the Prime Minister had shown disrespect to the Constitution by attacking the CAG on the floor of Parliament. The CPI(M) accused the Congress and the BJP of “match fixing” to avoid discussing coalgate in Parliament.

Hitting back at the BJP, the Congress asked it to substantiate the bribery charge. “It is rich coming from a party whose president was caught taking cash,” said Congress' Manish Tewari.

The BJP wore its aggression on its sleeve. “It is our allegation that a hefty part of the estimated loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore went into the coffers of the Congress,” party leader Sushma Swaraj said. The BJP team looked resplendent as nine leaders, including Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley, addressed a press meet where they offered a point by point rebuttal of the Prime Minister’s statement and justified the party’s continued obstruction of Parliament as a necessary part of its larger fight against corruption. Ms. Swaraj used the phrase “mota maal [big bribe]” in Hindi and said she was doing so consciously.

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