BJP finds itself isolated as Parliament deadlock continues
Stalling Parliament for the second consecutive day, BJP on Wednesday escalated its confrontation with the Government but appeared isolated with ally JD-U expressing reservations over its strategy and Trinamool Congress rejecting its invitation to target the Prime Minister.
Persisting with its demand that nothing less than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation would satisfy them, the BJP disrupted proceedings in both the Houses.
Later, the party raised the level of confrontation with the Government by its members walking out of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G scam when its demand for summoning the Prime Minister and Finance Minister P Chidambaram and key PMO officials.
However, BJP's strategy of disrupting Parliament did not find favour with JD-U whose leader Sharad Yadav, who is also NDA convenor, said discussions should take place in the two Houses on the coal block allocation issue.
At the same time, the JD-U said it was with BJP for the sake of NDA discipline and unity but that would be at the most for another two days.
In an attempt to assess the mood other parties, Yadav talked to leaders of CPI-CPM, TDP, SP and BSP who favoured debate instead of disruption.
Sources close to Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she has rejected the BJP request for siding with it.
On its part, BJP went on the offensive on its demand for Prime Minister's resignation on the ground that former Telecom Minister A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran had to quit.
"As A Raja had to go for 2G scam, and Dayanidhi Maran had to resign for his role in Aircel-Maxis deal, similarly the then Coal Minister Manmohan Singh has to go," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
As the stalemate continued, Congress mounted attack both on BJP and the CAG accusing the government auditor of "crossing the limits" and the Opposition party of playing the police, prosecutor and the judge at the same time.
Trashing the BJP's demand, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "There is no question of the Prime Minister resigning...
Prime Minister's image is very clean... nobody turns an accused or delinquent only by BJP's allegations".
Talking separately, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal spoke in similar vein. He said that the BJP was "running away" from Parliament as it knows that a debate would see the treasury benches ripping apart the Opposition charges.
The Prime Minister will intervene in the debate in Parliament whenever it takes place, Bansal said, adding Manmohan Singh was ready for such an intervention yesterday itself if the discussion had taken place.
Rejecting Congress' appeal of a parliamentary debate on coal block allocation issue, Javadekar maintained it is only logical that Singh should resign as a fair investigation will not be possible without his resignation as he is the Prime Minister and hence in-charge of CBI.
Though the government is reportedly in touch with BJP and is trying to break the deadlock by the offer of forming a Joint Parliamentary Committee as was done in the case of 2G spectrum scam or form a Committee to look into the coal block allocations, BJP and its NDA allies are not likely to allow Parliament to function this week.
Bansal and Alvi said BJP Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje, Raman Singh as also the then Left government in West Bengal and Orissa government had written for continuance of the non-auction mode for coal block allocation.
Alvi also said coal blocks were allocated only with the recommendation of the governments in state, many of which were being ruled by BJP.
BJP downplayed the issue, with Javadekar maintaining the Centre has all powers to decide on coal allocation and states have no final say in the matter.
Government managers also projected that the "windfall gains" talked about by CAG were a pre-UPA affair when BJP-led NDA was in power at the Centre.
The Prime Minister is geared up to rebut in Parliament the charges, contending that there were "inaccuracies" in the "misleading" assessment of loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
Asserting that the Prime Minister could not be held responsible in any manner on this issue, Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said "five states Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal had strongly opposed the idea of coal block allocation through the bidding route".