‘We will take the issue up in a big way in Parliament’
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Monday warned the Congress-led UPA government that there would be no respite for it in Parliament from the heat over the “coal scam.” However, his party was with the government on the issue of asking Pakistan to crack the whip on some social networking websites for fomenting unease among people from the northeast, Mr. Jaitley told mediapersons here.
The Opposition would raise coalgate in a big way in Parliament as it was not only one of the biggest scams in the history of the country and but also because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was “directly liable” for it.
Quoting the CAG report, he said the scandal surpassed even the 2G spectrum scam, the estimated loss to the exchequer going up to Rs 1.86 lakh crore. It covered the period when Dr. Singh himself was Coal Minister for five out of the eight years dealt with in the CAG report. While in the 2G case, Dr. Singh, as Prime Minister, was “morally responsible,” in the coal scam, he was “directly liable.”
About the situation in the northeast, Mr. Jaitley regretted that the Centre paid no heed to his party’s caution that large-scale “illegal migration” of Bangladeshis was creating problems for India.
“We have been telling the present and past Congress governments that illegal Bangladeshi infiltration [sic] was disturbing the population balance in the northeast and it may erupt in violence, but the Congress did not listen to us.” Regretting the large-scale exodus of northeastern people from various States, as a result of fear spread through SMSs and social networking websites, Mr. Jaitley hoped that peace would be restored soon in all the affected areas and they would return to the places they were studying or working in. “The Centre has made a very important disclosure and we have no reason to disbelieve it. We are one with the government that the trouble is being deliberately instigated in our country at the behest of our western neighbour.”
On other issues, Mr. Jaitley came down heavily on Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R.P.N. Singh for their “lack of knowledge of the reality and for misleading the people.”
Commenting on Mr. Verma’s remarks that he was “happy over inflation because it benefited farmers,” Mr. Jaitley said the Minister was apparently ignorant of the fact that the increasing cost of agricultural inputs had not made their economic conditions better in anyway. In response to Mr. Singh’s claim on Sunday that the Centre was providing the highest amount of gas to Gujarat at the cheapest price, Mr. Jaitley and the State’s Minister of State for Power, Saurabh Patel, challenged the Centre to allocate CNG to Ahmedabad at the same rate it was supplying to Delhi and Mumbai, as had recently been directed by the Gujarat High Court.
“If only price parity is made, we can reduce the gas prices by 30 per cent,” Mr. Patel said.