It was amusing to read the report (“PM, Jaitley cross swords, Aug. 31) where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, when asked about the missing coal files, said, “I am not the custodian of files of the Ministry of Coal” (Aug.31). Such an evasive reply was not expected from Dr. Singh. Jawaharlal Nehru once said in Parliament that every word the prime minister says is law.
Instead of answering questions on how the coal block files went missing, the government seems to be diverting attention by resorting to word jugglery. As a bench of the Supreme Court has observed, there seems to be an element of foul play (“Is there a bid to destroy coal papers, asks judge,” Aug.30). This appears to be the tactic being adopted by the scam-tainted UPA to have us believe that everything is fine under its dispensation.
As on many occasions in the past, the Prime Minister has failed to speak out at the right time. His belated speech was uncharacteristically aggressive and only showed up as an alibi-seeking exercise. Being combative is no substitute for statesmanship.
Dr. Singh’s speech of indignation cannot be attributed to anything other than his inability to face the Opposition onslaught, especially when the election is near. How far it will help him is anybody’s guess. Parliamentary disruption and missing files on coal serve only as fillers in the speech.