Coal scam: Third Front demands probe, parliament disrupted (Lead)

August 31st, 2012 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) With the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) coming together Friday to demand a special probe into the coal blocks allocation, a Third Front emerged on the issue that has seen parliament locked in a stalemate.

At the main gate of Parliament House, the SP, the TDP, and the Left parties staged a sit-in protest, pressing their demand for a probe into the allocation of coal blocks causing loss to the national exchequer as pointed out by the government auditor.

Leaders from these parties sat at the gate from where MPs enter the Parliament House building, raising slogans demanding a fair probe and a debate in parliament on the coal scam.

“If anyone is preventing the truth from coming out in the coal scam, it is the BJP. Skeletons will also come out from their closet, so they are not allowing a debate,” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said after the protest.

Parliament was adjourned for the eighth day Friday, as the BJP was unrelenting in its demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The ruling Congress, however, refused to budge. Party general secretary Digvijay Singh said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was exaggerating and sensationalising the issue of coal blocks allocation.

Both houses of parliament were again disrupted as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) kept up the offensive and created a ruckus, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha were adjourned initially till 12 noon, soon after proceedings began. They resumed for a brief while, but were subsequently adjourned for the day.

The BJP, main opposition party, has said it will neither allow parliament to function, nor permit a debate until the prime minister resigns, owning moral responsibility for the scam.

SP leader Mulayam Singh, talking to reporters after the protest, said they would take to the streets to press the demand for a fair probe.

“We will hit the streets, the markets. We have decided to take forward the struggle,” Yadav said.

A defiant Congress, however, sought to contest the findings of the CAG.

“The way the CAG is producing reports after 2004, without confirming facts and projecting fictitious losses, is creating an environment where crores are shown as losses,” Divijay Singh told reporters here.

The CAG had earlier this month said in its report that lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer as of March 11 last year.

“In the late 1980s, then CAG T.N. Chaturvedi brought out the Bofors report. The BJP created a ruckus and never let parliament function. Chaturvedi later joined the BJP,” he said.

Stating that he had never attacked any constitutional authority, the Congress leader said he was “concerned about the CAG giving exaggerated figures”.

“I have never attacked any constitutional authority in my life. But if you see the CAG’s past record before 2004, it never sensationalised records. It is the first time that people from CAG, not the CAG himself, have gone to the press.”

Digvijay Singh said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was creating a ruckus in parliament and shying away from a debate on the coal block allocations because it knows it will fail to muster the numbers needed.

“If the opposition is not letting parliament function, it means they do not have numbers. And I am shocked that they still want the prime minister to quit,” he said.

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