UPA allies reject Opposition demand for Manmohan’s resignation

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) allies on Wednesday backed the government on its offer to discuss the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on coal blocks allocation in Parliament to break the logjam.

Rejecting the Opposition’s demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the wake of the CAG’s report that puts the presumptive losses in the coal block allocation at Rs 1.86 lakh crore, the allies said the demand was “unreasonable.”

However, the UPA’s difficult ally, Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed the government’s proposal to bring in economic reforms by allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail and aviation sector.

Speaking at the second meeting of the UPA Coordination Committee, Ms. Banerjee said she wanted more consultations on the FDI in aviation sector but said there was no way the UPA could entertain Opposition demand on Prime Minister’s resignation.

“The stand taken by BJP and its partners that they will not allow discussion of the subject nor will they allow Parliament to function is unreasonable. On that, all the UPA partners are agreed,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told journalists after a meeting of UPA Coordination Committee.

The Committee discussed, among other things, the controversial issues of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail and Teesta but Mr. Chidambaram said the parties only exchanged their views. Further discussions would be held in the coming days. “The third meeting of the Coordination Committee will be held next month after the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament ends,” he added.

According to Mr. Chidambaram, all issues engaging the country were discussed at the meeting, including economic, political and foreign relations.

“We discussed the impasse in Parliament and unanimously agreed that the offer made by the Prime Minister that we are willing to discuss any subject in Parliament, including the CAG reports, must be reaffirmed and restated. Tomorrow, the Leader of the House will restate the position again that we are willing to discuss any subject on the floor of the House,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

The meeting, the second since the UPA Coordination Committee was set up last month, was also attended by Ms. Mamata Banerjee who had skipped it the last time. Ms. Banerjee is expected to meet some Union Ministers and Congress leaders on Thursday.

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