Parliament again adjourned, government hopes for breakthrough Monday (Intro Roundup)

August 23rd, 2012 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Parliament was disrupted for the third day running Thursday as the BJP insisted on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the CAG report on coal blocks allocation even as the government expressed hope that a breakthrough would be achieved at an all-party meeting Monday.

As the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stuck to their positions, back channel talks were held to end the stand-off.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi told a group of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) MPs not to be defensive about the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on allocation of coal blocks as the government had done no wrong.

Sources said Speaker Meira Kumar would call an all-party meeting Monday to find a solution to the current impasse.

“The speaker will call some meeting Monday. A way out will be found,” a minister said, declining to be named.

In the morning, Meira Kumar held an informal meeting in her chamber which was not attended by the BJP.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari too called a meeting in his chamber to try and end the impasse in the upper house, but it remained inconclusive.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj in an effort to bring her BJP around for smooth functioning of parliament.

In the evening, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal expressed hope that a solution will be found Monday.

“We hope we are able to get together by Monday and see how parliament runs,” Bansal said.

He said when discussion takes place on the CAG report, the government will be able to turn the tables on the BJP and other opposition parties.

“During discussion in parliament, (we will) tear (their arguments) to smithereens and turn the tables,” Bansal said.

Sources said the government could even agree to a discussion on CAG report under rules which entail voting. They said once the CAG report was discussed in the house, it was unlikely to go to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

With Gandhi telling party MPs to be aggressive vis-ŕ-vis the BJP’s “obstructionist tactics”, the party Friday came all guns blazing at its official briefing.

“BJP does not do politics on its own. It has needed shoulders of others. In the ’sixties, they needed shoulder of (Ram Manohar) Lohia… They (now) need Anna Hazare and Ramdev,” party media department chairman Janardan Dwivedi said.

Dwivedi praised BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying he never indulged in “undignified conduct.”

“The BJP’s biggest disappointment was that it lost 2009 polls. They are deeply troubled,” Dwivedi added.

On its part, the BJP kept up its aggression against the government, terming the Congress obstinate and blaming it for not allowing proper functioning of Joint Parliamentary Committee on 2G spectrum allocation.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley justified party members’ demand in the two houses for the prime minister’s resignation. He told a news channel that parliamentary obstructionism was legitimate at times.

Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told IANS that it was the “government’s obligation to run the houses.”

Both houses of parliament saw repeated adjournments as BJP members kept raising slogans demanding Manmohan Singh’s exit.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon, followed by another adjournment till 2 p.m. and later for the day.

Congress MPs hit back at the BJP, waving a newspaper report which said some opposition-ruled states had not favoured the auction route to coal allocation.

The Rajya Sabha saw three adjournments before it was adjourned for the day.

Here, too, BJP members raised slogans demanding the prime minister’s resignation.

However, MPs from the BJP’s ally, the Janata Dal-United, did not join in the sloganeering. The JD-U favours a discussion on the alleged scam.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in capital, too favoured discussion in parliament on the coal block allocation.

India’s official auditor last week reported that the lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a presumptive loss of Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer.

Parliament has been stalled since Tuesday over the report.

The Congress has ruled out the prime minister’s resignation.

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