The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “introspect and resign” in the wake of the adverse CAG reports.
Focusing on the Rs. 1.86 lakh crore presumptive loss indicated by the official auditor in coal block allocation between 2005 and 2009, party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley argued that since Dr. Singh held charge of the Coal Ministry during a part of the period, he had to accept “direct responsibility” for the scam.
The report on “coal-gate” revealed “a mix of policy paralysis, inefficiency and corrupt motives,” they said adding, “It is this mix which caused the huge wrongful loss.”
They also said the PMO’s direct role was established by a September 2004 note authored by it, highlighting the difficulties of allocation through competitive bidding. “This note was intended to favour those who made windfall gains from the discretionary system.”
For its part, the Congress hit back at both the CAG and the BJP, saying the auditor’s findings bristled with inconsistencies and revealed a lack of understanding of the basics of development economics.
Talking unofficially to reporters, a senior party functionary accused the CAG of behaving like a “hero” and trying to score “brownie points” against the government.
The tone was more restrained at the formal press briefing. Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the government was totally transparent in the allocations and a deeper scrutiny of the facts would establish this. “We must wait for the PAC to scrutinise the findings and present its report to Parliament.”
Mr. Tiwari charged the BJP with double standards. “When the CAG indicts any State government of the BJP, the party takes the stand that the reports must go to the PAC. But when the CAG report is against the Centre, it sees no reason to wait for the PAC. We reject such irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations.” He pointed out that BJP-ruled States were taken on board on the allocations
The BJP rebutted this forcefully. Ms. Swaraj and Mr. Jaitley said that having taken a decision in favour of competitive bidding in June, 2004, the government could not escape responsibility now. “It is for the government to explain why its decision was not taken to its logical conclusion.”
In a statement, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) asked the Prime Minister to explain to Parliament and the nation “why the modus operandi for transparent allocations was not worked out.” It demanded identification and punishment of “all those guilty of siphoning off huge resources.” It asked the government to frame future guidelines with Parliament’s approval.