PM should be allowed to explain facts on coal blocks

Saying the Opposition gains nothing by disrupting Parliament over the allegations of a scam in the allocation of coal blocks, former Union minister Arun Shourie has said that the Prime Minister, who is in-charge of the Coal Ministry then, should be allowed to explain the facts in the wake of CAG findings.

“There has to be a question of ministerial responsibility. After all, the Prime Minister is the Minister in-charge [of coal]. And, as he rightly says, he must be given the opportunity to explain the facts as he sees them,” Mr. Shourie told reporters here on Saturday.

He was critical of the Opposition, saying it had developed the habit of disrupting Parliament by adopting a stand for a few days, and later finding a reason not to pursue it.

He recalled the demand for the resignation of P. Chidambaram over the 2G scam last time to disrupt Parliament.

“After a few days, Mr. Chidambaram continued to speak in Parliament and they said nothing. If you really feel outraged, then be Gandhian. Don’t compromise. Otherwise, it seems it is only for the moment.

“The grievance of the Opposition is not a debate but that nothing happens after a debate. Therefore, some politicians are let off. Once government demonstrates that action will follow, then there will be no problem. In the end, the Opposition gains nothing by the disruption of Parliament.”

On the 2G scam also, he said Mr. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and the Prime Minister defended the then Union Communications Minister A. Raja.

Later, the Prime Minister started issuing contradictory statements, which again proved the case of the Opposition about the futility of debate.

“In all these matters, the solution is expeditious execution of the cases. Swift enquiries, swift judgements and exemplary punishment are necessary,” he said.

On Chidambaram’s return as Union Finance Minister, Mr. Shourie said that the country was still suffering from his earlier budget — from the deficits he pioneered, populist schemes included and the off-budget items which were not included in expenditure — all of which had inflationary consequences. “He is a likeable person, very intelligent. I hope his subsequent budgets will be better than his previous ones.”

Earlier, Mr. Shourie delivered the annual Nani Palkhivala Memorial Lecture on ‘Judicial Activism and the Alternatives.

In his address, he said judicial activism was a result of the failure of the legislature and executive.

He was of the view that courts should intervene in an issue only when it was clear that the executive had failed to discharge its duties.