The impasse in Parliament over the ‘coalgate’ continuing, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today held a meeting with senior Congress leaders to discuss the issue. Informal discussions were held to break the logjam, even as the Samajwadi Party’s demand for a judicial probe into the matter has added to the woes of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. This meeting was followed by a Congress core group meeting, in which Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal and Law Minister Salman Khurshid were specially asked to attend.
Party leaders remained tight-lipped about the details of the meetings, but it was clear the SP’s demand and ‘dharna’ in Parliament today alongside the Left and the TDP on the coalgate issue had become a cause for worry for the Congress. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh away, the first meeting included Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
After his return from Tehran after attending the NAM summit, the PM attended the core committee meeting, which again deliberated on the current logjam. The controversy relating to Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai recommending for coal block allocations to his relatives has also caused worry.
Moreover, Congress leaders indicated the government was not averse to holding a judicial inquiry, provided the House was allowed to function and the demand comes from the Opposition.
Mulayam Singh Yadav speaking to reporters outside Parliament said, “We demand that a sitting Supreme Court judge or the CBI inquire into the scam. If they don't order a probe, we will hit the streets, the markets and go to the people. We have decided to take forward the struggle.”
Congress ministers refrained from making any comments on Mulayam Singh Yadav’s demand with Law Minister Salman Khurshid saying such a decision could only be taken by the PM.
The PM, in fact, was briefed at the airport itself about the developments by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, according to sources.
The government’s attempt to pass two Bills in the Lok Sabha in the ongoing din by the Opposition, having come in for criticism, it is treading cautiously before it attempts to pass a few more non- controversial legislations next week, among them being the AIIMS Amendment Bill.