Parliament Adjourned Again, All-party Meeting On Monday
New Delhi: Parliament was disrupted for the third day Thursday as the opposition insisted on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the CAG report on alleged faulty allocation of coal blocks, even as an all-party meeting called on Monday held out hope of the ending the logjam.
As the ruling Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stuck to their positions, back channel talks were on to end the stand off, government sources said Thursday. The sources said there was hope of the all party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Monday ending the impasse and a solution being worked out.
In the morning, Meira Kumar had held an informal meeting in her chamber. The BJP did not attend. Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari too called a meeting in his chamber to try and end the impasse in the upper house, which remained inconclusive.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the lower house Sushma Swaraj in an effort to bring her party around to letting parliament function.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha saw noisy scenes as the BJP members kept raising slogans demanding Manmohan Singh’s exit. In the morning, the Lok Sabha saw proceedings disrupted as BJP members shouted slogans and rushed noisily towards Meira Kumar’s podium.
The house was adjourned till 12 noon, followed by another adjournment till 2 p.m. and later for the day. Congress MPs were equally vociferous. Some waved copies of The Indian Express which carried a report saying opposition-ruled states had not favoured the auction of coal blocks.
Shinde kept pleading with the opposition that the prime minister should be allowed to speak. Similar scenes were seen in the Rajya Sabha, forcing three adjournments and finally for the day. Here too BJP MPs raised slogans demanding the prime minister’s resignation.
However, MPs from the BJP’s ally, the Janata Dal-United, did not take part in the sloganeering. The JD-U favours a discussion on the alleged scam. India’s official auditor last week revealed that the lack of transparency in the allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a loss of a whopping Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer.
Parliament has been stalled since Tuesday over the report. The government said that the opposition was in no mood to talk. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for a discussion in parliament on the coal allocation. “Let them (opposition) decide what format they want for the discussion. We must consult the opposition parties. I believe there are so many big issues which can be sorted out through discussion and negotiation,” she said, adding, “The opposition is demanding the resignation of the prime minister. It is up to the prime minister to decide.”
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