New Delhi: Irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks disrupted both
houses of parliament Tuesday with the government and the Congress
rejecting the opposition's demand for the resignation of Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar over the
issue and a parliamentary panel suggesting cancellation of all
mines given since 1993.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were repeatedly disrupted
before being adjourned for the day as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
noisily demanded the resignation of both Manmohan Singh and
Ashwani Kumar, who allegedly toned down a CBI affidavit related to
the coal blocks issue.
"The BJP parliamentary party has decided that the prime minister
should resign and the law minister should be removed in the light
of the series of scams and the brazen way in which the government
has sought to suppress the truth from coming out," party
spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.
He said the coal blocks affidavit, in which the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) was being "pressurised", was also discussed at
"In this, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar and the Prime Minister's
Office have a role. Ashwini Kumar was trying to correct the
grammar of the CBI affidavit. Since when did CBI need an English
tutor like the law minister," he retorted.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi rebuffed the BJP's demand.
"Let them ask," Gandhi told reporters.
Gandhi also met the prime minister, along with senior cabinet
ministers, before the report was tabled in the Lok Sabha.
The Communist Party of India (CPI) too demanded Manmohan Singh's
resignation, saying he had not done his job and was guilty of
"dereliction of duty".
"The prime minister should resign," Communist Party of India
leader Gurudas Dasgupta told reporters here.
"The prime minister is guilty of dereliction of duty on a number
of counts. He has not done his job, he has failed to keep his
commitment to the country. He has to protect the interests of the
nation, which he has repeatedly not done," he said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath rejected the demand.
"There is no basis to the demand for the PM's resignation," he
However, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav supported
the government, saying his party did not believe that the
Congress-led UPA government has interfered with the CBI report.
Asked if his party believed that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
government manipulated the CBI report, Mulayam Singh said: "We do
not believe so, but we believe that the government should give an
The SP chief also said that the coal block allocation scam was not
the most important issue faced by the nation.
"China has occupied 12 km land along the border, that is a more
serious issue. Why is the media ignoring it," he asked.
Kalyan Banerjee, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee
on the coal ministry, added to the government's woes by saying
that all the coal blocks allocated since 1993 were illegal, the
licences should be cancelled and those responsible for the
allocation should be investigated.
"The entire allocation needs investigation. The entire
distribution (of coal blocks) was unauthorised. It should be be
cancelled," Banerjee, a Trinamool Congress member of the Lok Sabha,
told reporters after the committee's report was tabled in the
"The commencement of production only from only 30 blocks out of
the total allocated 218 puts a question mark on the process," he
But Banerjee could not quantify the loss in the allocations,
saying the "coal ministry did not give us any detail despite
According to the panel, such allocation of huge natural resources
has not generated sufficient revenue for the government but had
only benefited private players.
Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko said the issue was "serious" but
it was not proper to comment as the matter was being examined by
the Supreme Court.