Absence of Pranab Mukherjee as a troubleshooter to end the deadlock is not being felt by the UPA-II. Moreover, as the BJP wants the scalp of prime minister Manmohan Singh, no leader in the UPA-II is willing to stick his neck out.
Neither speaker of the Lok Sabha nor the chairman of Rajya Sabha is interested in calling a meeting of ruling party and the BJP to their chambers to settle the matter.
The UPA-II senior union ministers are quietly debating that government has suffered a major setback in the coalgate crisis and prime minister’s image has hit the low ebb.
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The government is ready to let another session be washed out as it finds the BJP's pressure for the prime minister's resignation preposterous that cannot be accepted, particularly when there is no blot on him in the CAG report on the allocation of the coal mines.
A senior minister said the BJP appears determined to carry on its campaign inside and outside parliament with a single goal of forcing an early election. A prime minister resigning is as good as the government's censure which is not acceptable, he said, daring the BJP to bring a no-confidence motion than paralyse parliament.
"We have to nip it in the bud. It is the BJP's conspiracy to defame honest leaders in India who are in any case a scarce lot and Manmohan Singh is one of them," the minister affirmed.
Defending the PM, coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters, “The PM’s job was to ensure a transparent mechanism. If anybody has misled the screening committee, if a corporate house has given wrong facts, if an official has committed a mistake willfully or otherwise, the CBI is investigating and strong action will be taken.
Arguing that the PM cannot be held responsible for any procedural lapse that might have occurred, which the CBI is probing, the minister said, “Those who did forgery will be sent to jail. It is not a question of de-allocating the coal blocks only. We don’t agree with the CAG’s calculations. We don’t want to be critical of the constitutional body but the loss figure is completely wrong and the CAG should not have done this.”
Jaiswal gave several analogies to buttress his point. He said, “If the CAG is asked about losses in petroleum products, they will go by the book and say the government has caused losses worth crores. If you ask them about trains, they will find out 300 trains are running in perpetual losses which is causing huge drain on the exchequer and should be stopped immediately. But we have to run those trains as the government’s objective is not just to make profits.”
Jaiswal, daring the Opposition to have a debate on every aspect of coal block allocations, explained, “There are six coal rich states in India - Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Maharashtra. Except Maharashtra, the only Congress-ruled state, all the five states forcefully opposed auction and wanted the practice of allocation of captive blocks to continue. All these things are in writing and the BJP knows these facts will expose them during the debate.
The government was very aggressive despite continued disruption of parliament. Apart from Jaiswal, cabinet ministers like Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Ambika Soni and Pawan Kumar Bansal came out strongly to defend the PM. The party spokespersons were also told to rule out any possibility of the PM’s resignation.
Bansal said the government was ready for another washout of the session as nothing could be done about such an irrational demand.
The government is confident that the people will see merit in their stance once the facts of the case are presented before them in the right perspective. The division among the opposition parties has already given the Congress some hope, as not only the Left and the SP but even the JD-U is uncomfortable with the BJP’s extreme position as they are not happy with the strategy of paralysing parliament for perpetuity.