Hitting out at the BJP for disrupting Parliament on the coal blocks allocation issue, Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Saturday asked the party why it was not ready for a debate and dared it to face questions on allocations made during the NDA rule.

“If the BJP has such a strong case, why don’t they debate the subject in Parliament?” he said, reacting to party leader Arun Jaitley’s criticism of the government and his assertion that his party was in no mood to allow Parliament to function till its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation was met.

Mr. Jaitley told a press conference in Delhi on Saturday that a nationwide debate was on on the coal block issue though it was not taking place in Parliament. “Our strategy does not permit that we allow the government to use Parliament to end this debate without any accountability. We want the debate to go on further,” he had said.

“That is what I would like to ask them,” Mr. Chidambaram said. “Why debate the issue on television? Why not in Parliament? Why doesn’t he [Jaitley] raise the issue in Parliament?”

He also wanted to know whether the BJP was prepared for a debate on the coal blocks allocation made during the BJP-led NDA regime between 1998 and 2004.

Replying to Mr. Jaitley’s criticism of his ‘no loss’ theory in regard to the allocations, the Minister said there was a potential gain when coal was mined and sold. “Where is the presumptive loss or gain when mining has not taken place?” he countered.

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