Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday dismissed the Opposition demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Coalgate issue. “Let them ask,” she told journalists, shortly after the Congress core group met to discuss the matter as both Houses of Parliament were adjourned over the issue.
With the Opposition reviving its attack on the government on Coalgate, training its guns not just on Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, who is being accused of having “vetted” the CBI report to the Supreme Court, but on the Prime Minister as well, the party’s top leaders went into a huddle to discuss the government’s options in the coming days. The meeting was attended by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko too described the demand for the Prime Minister’s resignation as worthless. “How many times have they made this demand in the last four years,” he asked, pointing out that asking for the PM’s resignation had “always been the favourite slogan of the Opposition.”
Mr. Chacko stressed that the Opposition was not keen on passing key bills on food security and land acquisition and, therefore, was paralysing Parliament. “We appeal to all parties to help pass these bills,” he said.
Ms. Gandhi’s response came a day after she told an alumni meeting of the party’s youth wing, the National Students’ Union of India: “Why should we allow our opponents to get away with propagating negative impressions? You should ask them, ‘What have you or your party done to change things in our country?’ I have no doubt that they have no credible answer.”
Mr. Chacko, who is also the Joint Parliamentary Committee chairman on 2G, simultaneously dismissed reports that the JPC had named the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in its draft report: “We have the highest regard for Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This report has not mentioned the name of [Mr.] Vajpayee.”
Mr. Chacko’s remarks come at a time when efforts are on to unite all non-Congress members on the JPC to reject the report that has reportedly given a clean chit to the Prime Minister and Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. With the Opposition closing ranks against him, he stressed that the JPC reports were not decided by numbers and there had been precedents of adopting such reports with dissenting notes. “I am sure that some dissenting notes will come and I welcome that,” he said.