‘The files are not missing, they have been stolen’; Political parties demand registration of an FIR

Mounting pressure on the UPA government, which finds itself in a mess over controversial coal block allocations, the BJP on Wednesday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh volunteer himself to get examined by the Central Bureau of Investigation, even as other parties demanded registration of a First Information Report on missing files.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said the government was yet to register an FIR, giving an impression that it did not want to trace the missing files on coal blocks allocations. “The files are not missing, they have been stolen as these pertain to influential Congress leaders,” she alleged.

Hitting out at the Prime Minister, she said aspersions had been cast on him as the Coal Ministry was under his charge between 2006 and 2009. “If the Prime Minister wants to see himself coming clean, he should come forward and offer to depose before the CBI.”

Referring to reports in a section of the media, she said a key CBI official pointed out that there was need to ‘examine’ the Prime Minister.

Her demand for registration of an FIR found support in the Samajwadi Party, the CPI, the CPI(M), the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party.

Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said, “We would like to know how many files are missing. They are trying to hide something.”

Referring to the Prime Minister’s assertion that he was not the custodian of files, Mr. Yadav said, “You are the custodian of everything; you are the custodian of the nation.”

Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) demanded filing of an FIR without delay. Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) claimed that the files had been ‘removed’ and were not missing or stolen.

BJP leaders mollified

The UPA government came under fire though the deadlock over missing coal files was broken earlier in the day, after two senior Ministers succeeded in mollifying senior BJP leaders, leading to resumption of business in Parliament.

The government, keen on ensuring passage of the Land Acquisition Bill and the Pension Bill, hit the panic button when it appeared that the remaining three days of the session would yield little.

In a late-night initiative on Tuesday, Dr. Singh called BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. He appealed to them to allow smooth functioning of Parliament, but failed to persuade them.

However, the government did not give up hope. Before Parliament commenced on Wednesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had two meetings with the three BJP leaders. It was agreed that the Opposition leaders would have a discussion and cooperate with the government in getting important legislative business through.

But the BJP insisted that the issue of missing files must be taken up on priority, particularly in the wake of reports that a senior CBI officer wanted the Prime Minister questioned in connection with the coal block allocations made between 2006 and 2009.

“Under the circumstances, on behalf of our party we are constrained to demand that the government confirm or deny the fact that the investigating officer [Senior Superintendant of Police K.R.] Chaurasia has required the examination of the Prime Minister on the basis of the material before him so that no further tampering [with] and doctoring of the investigation take place. The material on the basis of which he requires the examination of the Prime Minister should also be publicly disclosed,” Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley said in a joint statement.

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