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Parliament is likely to be disrupted tomorrow if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh doesn’t make a statement that says what the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expecting him to say.
The BJP would like the PM to own some responsibility for the changes in the coal block allotment procedures, systems and deviations as set out in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). If the PM makes an anodyne statement and, worse, implies criticism of CAG, BJP has decided it will come out and mount a full-throated protest against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA’s) tendency to denigrate Constitutional institutions.
Top BJP leaders here said there will be a meeting of the leaders of the parliamentary party in both houses tomorrow morning where they will decide strategy — for tomorrow as well as for the whole week.
BJP understands diminishing returns from an extended ‘disrupt Parliament’ strategy. At the same time, they would like to post demonstrable gains from an opportunity they concede, has landed in their lap — the CAG reports.
The leaders in the party know the parliamentary procedure is that the CAG reports are discussed and debated in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) — in fact, the CAG is a kind of assistant to the PAC which evaluates the use of government funds and indicates how they could have been used better.
But the government is quick to point out that in the current case, there were accounting and procedural lacunae in the CAG reports that cannot be overlooked.
Either way, the correct forum, Minister of State in PMO, V Narayanswamy says, is to discuss it in the PAC, not the floor of the House.
But until the BJP has heard the PM state unequivocally that he was responsible for all acts of omission and commission of the government in allotments under his watch as the coal minister, the Opposition party will not let the House run.
The government will be painting itself in a corner if it chooses to deflect the matter by criticising the institution of CAG, Opposition sources said.
All day today, parliamentary affairs ministers were engaged in martialling resources and talking to various constituents to defend the government if the need arises tomorrow.