Coalgate scam: No signs of end to Parliament deadlock
There were no signs of an end to the deadlock in Parliament with BJP indicating further escalation of the confrontation over the CAG report on the coal block allocation issue in the remaining part of the monsoon session.
Notwithstanding the near isolation of the party on its strategy of disrupting both the Houses for the last three days, BJP leaders are said to be not not in a mood to relent on their demand that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh take responsibility on the coal blocks allocation and resign.
The mood of confrontation continued on Thursday with the NDA members trooping to the well and disrupting proceedings and Congress President Sonia Gandhi telling her party MPs to take the Opposition head on and not not to be on the defensive.
Significantly, AIADMK today joined the NDA deliberations to chart out the Parliamentary strategy of the opposition when BJP ally JD(U), which had expressed reservations yesterday, also veered round to the position that the the confrontation should continue.
Efforts by presiding officers of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to break the deadlock also failed. While Chairman Hamid Ansari's meeting with leaders saw reiteration of the stands by the government and the opposition, the Speaker's meeting was boycotted by the NDA. SP and BSP leaders also stayed away from it.
As BJP stuck to its demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister, the chances of Parliament doing any work on Friday are ruled out. Party leaders also dismissed the possibility of their MPs resigning from Lok Sabha to rachet up further pressure on the government.
Though BJP leaders are not willing to go on record, a number of senior leaders privately say that the possibility of a wash out of the entire session cannot be dismissed.
Government hopes are being pinned on the meeting being planned by the two presiding officers on Monday to thrash out the differences so as to ensure a smooth running of Parliament.
With the impasse continuing, government sought to reach out to the main Opposition with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde meeting the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj after which he hoped the matter could be resolved by Monday.
Asked by when the current impasse could be resolved, the Home Minister said, "Let's see. I hope that by Monday the matter will be resolved...I am trying to settle it by tomorrow (also). Let's see."
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government had invited the BJP for talks but they refused.
"Do you think the answer to break the deadlock is to demand the resignation (of the Prime Minister)? They are not moving forward. Today we had invited them for talks. But they are probably not willing to talk. Perhaps they will be ready to talk on Monday," he said.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley is understood to have justified his party's strategy in the meeting convened by Ansari that Parliament is also about accountability and this role cannot be jettisoned.
Congress leaders said Parliamentary practices were going downhill and put the blame on the opposition's attitude.
The Left parties have said that the coal allocation issue has now become a Congress versus BJP fight.
They suggested that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should call an all-party meeting to end the deadlock.
Government managers are speaking of different views said to be existing in the BJP on the approach to the issue. The BJP hardliners are understood to be of the view that it should be exploited to the full.
This section also speaks of resignations from the Parliamentary committees after sometime and later from Parliament. However, there is a minority view that stalling may not not good tactics in the long run.
BJP leaders, however, struck a cautious note maintaining that it was for the government to take the initiative to resolve the stalemate.
Asked about the possibility of a mid-term poll, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said "Whether it will happen or not will be decided by 'M-Cube' or Mulayam, Mayawati and Mamata.
Neither we nor BJP can say that. 'M-cube' is now supporting the UPA government."
Claiming that the coal block scam is "larger" than the 2G scam, Yechury said the three CAG reports on coal blocks, Delhi airport and power sector show that "crony capitalism of the worst order is being practised by this government. Due to this, private parties are making windfall gains.
Earlier in the day, Congress President Sonia Gandhi told a group of party MPs to counter the Opposition aggressively and not be on the defensive.
"We had done no wrong. We need not be defensive on it," Gandhi is learnt to have told the MPs, who met her after both Houses of were adjourned.
BJP Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad countered this, saying, "This shows the frustration of Sonia Gandhi. Is this attitude of the Congress a result of the new-found aggression of their president?"
Seeking to expose the BJP's campaign, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi alleged that the anti-government campaign showed the "growing frustration" in the BJP over the emergence of new leadership in the Congress, a veiled reference to Rahul Gandhi.
"BJP never does politics on its own strength. It always requires the shoulders of others .... Now they are feeling the need of Anna Hazare and Ramdev and using their shoulders in the game of power," Dwivedi said.