Parliament proceedings remained deadlocked on the third consecutive day on Thursday over the CAG report on allocation of coal blocks with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the AIADMK, among others, insistent on the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Dr. Singh held the Coal portfolio when the allocations were made without auction, bringing windfall gains to the allottees.
Efforts by the presiding officers — who met leaders of parties in their chambers — did not yield results and the functioning of both Houses continued to be stalled.
Party leaders in the Rajya Sabha suggested that the leaders of both Houses (Dr. Singh in the Rajya Sabha and Sushil Kumar Shinde in the Lok Sabha) hold a meeting with the leaders of the Opposition (Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj) to end the impasse so that Parliament could function smoothly. Later Mr. Shinde met Ms. Swaraj.
However, but for the tabling of reports and papers, no business was transacted and both Houses were frequently adjourned till 2 p.m., and thereafter for the day.
In the Rajya Sabha, BJP members raised slogans and trooped into the well in the pre-lunch session. It was the AIADMK’s turn to do so in the Lok Sabha.
The Opposition shouted Yeh jo Congress ke chehre pe laali hai, koyale ki dalali hai (The glow on the face of the Congress is because of brokerage in coal block allocation). Congress members countered the Opposition’s slogan of Pradhan Mantri Istifa Do (Prime Minister resign) with Pradhan Mantri Zindabad (Hail the Prime Minister).
But divisions in the Opposition were out in the open as, during the meeting with Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, non-NDA parties said it was the responsibility of the ruling party and the principal Opposition to ensure that the House functioned smoothly. The BJP did not attend the meeting held in the chamber of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.
To the government’s reiterated offer of a discussion, as well as a statement by Dr. Singh, the BJP said Parliament was a place for discussions, but the issue here was the government’s “accountability.” The responsibility for the smooth functioning of the House lay with the government, it said. Among those who met the Rajya Sabha Chairman in his chamber were Mr. Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Maya Singh (all BJP), Satish Mishra (BSP), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D. Raja (CPI), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Derek O’ Brien (TMC), Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U), V. Maitreyan (AIADMK), S.S. Dhinda (Akali Dal), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Karan Singh (Congress), Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla and representatives of the Telugu Desam Party and the Biju Janata Dal.
Later, at a meeting of the Rajya Sabha Business Advisory Committee — that sets the business for the coming week — only time allocation for various subjects was done, indicating that uncertainty would persist over the smooth running of Parliament.