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PM refuses to cancel coal block allocations

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Sun, Sep 02, 2012 19:00 hrs
PM statement at NAM Summit

Despite the Opposition pressure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has categorically ruled out the possibility of cancelling the allocation of controversial coal blocks and ordering a judicial probe into the alleged scam.

Earlier in the day, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would allow Parliament to function if the coal block allocations were cancelled and an independent inquiry was ordered. BJP has been disrupting the Parliament proceedings demanding the prime minister's resignation after the Comproller and Auditor General of India recently pegged in a report the notional loss to the exchequer at Rs 1.86 lakh crore on account of coal block allocations.

Earlier today, Singh summoned senior Cabinet ministers to discuss the way forward for the government and took stock of the situation.

With Congress President and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi having left for a week-long visit to the United States for a routine medical check-up, no drastic turnaround is likely to emanate from the Congress camp in the next few days.

As the final week of the monsoon session resumes tomorrow, UPA has decided to stick to its primary demand that the Opposition should first come back to Parliament to debate and discuss the coal allocation issue before any of its demands could be considered.

Sources said the meeting discussed even adjourning Parliament sine die as the Opposition had not been showing any sign of letting the House function. "But that was ultimately shot down as previous experience has shown us that it would send out a wrong message - that the government could not face the current tension, and, so, adjourned the House," said a source.

It has been decided that non-controversial Bills such as the Northeastern Areas (Re-organisation) Amendment Bill, the AIIMS Amendment Bill, the Architects Amendment Bill and the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill would be taken up in the next few days.

The AIIMS Bill, along with the Chemical Weapons Convention Act, was cleared by the Lok Sabha last week amid the din from the Opposition.

Sources indicate the government intends to do it in a similar manner so as to get other non- contentious bills passed.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the advice given by Gandhi, Congress ministers and leaders spent the weekend touring their constituencies explaining their stand to the public. Before her departure, Gandhi had spoken to Swaraj on Friday to look for a possible compromise. There was no headway.


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