Agrees to intervention by Prime Minister on missing coal files

As the Opposition persisted with its demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a statement on missing coal block allocation files, the government on Thursday softened its stand and agreed to an intervention by the Prime Minister during the discussion on the issue as and when it takes place.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said in the Lok Sabha that the government had nothing to hide so far as the missing files from the Coal Ministry were concerned. The Prime Minister could intervene during a debate on the statement already made by Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.

“The Coal Minister will make a statement. Thereafter, a discussion can be held in the House in which the Prime Minister can intervene,” the Minister said as Opposition members remained vociferous in their demand for a statement by the Prime Minister.

Earlier, several leaders from the Opposition were unanimous in their demand of seeking a statement from the Prime Minister.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj rejected charges that the Opposition was stalling the House proceedings. She said that Opposition had made the demand three days ago seeking an assurance from the government that the Prime Minister would give a statement.

The files belonged to the period when “the Prime Minister was in charge” of the Coal Ministry from 2006 to 2009. “From the very beginning, we wanted the House to function. But that does not mean we will allow the government to do whatever it likes,” she said.

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta demanded that the Prime Minister explain “why these sensitive files have been missing.” He alleged that it was done deliberately “to ensure that the guilty is not punished.”

M. Thamidurai (AIADMK) said it was high time the Prime Minister came to the House and gave an explanation on the missing files. Coal Minister himself accepted that files were missing.

CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia said Coalgate was the biggest scam that had ever happened.

Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said missing files would only mean that the CBI probe, being monitored by the Supreme Court, reached nowhere. He wanted the government to find a “middle path” so that the House could function.

In the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla gave the similar indication that the Prime Minister might intervene during the debate.

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