Coalgate: Jaiswal defends PM, says BJP scared of debate
New Delhi, Aug 22 (ANI): Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Wednesday defended Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh over the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report on coal block allocations, and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of not allowing a debate to take place in the Parliament on the issue.
Jaiswal alleged that every single individual has the right to use Parliament for politics, but added that it should not to be used only for political agendas.
"Everyone has the right to use Parliament for politics, but it should not be used only to further political agendas. The opposition knows that if a debate takes place, it will be exposed," he said.
Jaiswal said that the main objective of the Prime Minister at the time was to take steps to help the Indian economy to grow, and not just meet the demand for coal.
"His decisions led to a high growth rate at a time when there was a huge recession in the U.S.," he added.
Jaiswal further said the various state governments were consulted and their approval was taken for allocation of all coal blocks.
"If the bidding process had been initiated, there would have been greater transparency and our government tried to introduce this. But Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, all the state governments, aggressively opposed this because they said higher coal costs would hit industrial development in their states," he added.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley earlier in the day demanded the Prime Minister's resignation over the CAG report on coal block allocations.
He said the ongoing standoff that has paralyzed the parliamentary proceedings can be brought to an end if Dr. Manmohan Singh takes moral responsibility and acts accordingly.
Jaitley said the BJP is firm on the Prime Minister's resignation for he held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for three of the years under scrutiny.
"The fundamental difference between the 2G spectrum allocation scam and the coal block allocations. In 2G, the Prime Minister was indirectly and vicariously liable; in this case five out of the eight years he himself was the Coal Minister. And such a huge and momentous loss has been caused to the government, there is no way he can escape the responsibility in this matter. Therefore, the BJP is firm on his resignation," said Jaitley.
"The deadlock can be absolutely broken in a minute if the Prime Minister takes the moral responsibility and acts accordingly," he added, when asked what would be his initiative as an opposition leader to break the logjam in Parliament.
The BJP has held the Prime Minister, who then held direct charge of the Coal Ministry, responsible for what has been estimated as loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores by the CAG in coal block allocation and demanded his resignation.
The CAG report on coal block allocation states that nearly 150 coalfields were allotted to private and state-run firms without transparency and objectivity between 2005 and 2009.
The report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office. But the BJP is emphasizing on the fact that for three of the years under scrutiny, the Prime Minister held the coal portfolio. (ANI)
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