PM, BJP spar over Parliament washout

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 07, 2012 18:54 hrs

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for filibustering the entire monsoon session of the Parliament, while the main opposition party lashed back at the ruling Congress-led coalition over the purported coal swindle.

With the entire monsoon session of parliament a washout, Singh on the last day of the session said: "We have just ended a wasted session of Parliament. Both Houses were paralysed because the CAG has issued a report, which rightly or wrongly, makes certain allegations about the public functionaries.

"We have great respect for the institution of the CAG, but if we respect this institution, we must be willing to debate its findings in the Public Accounts Committee, or even on the floor of the Parliament, which we have always been willing."

Slamming the opposition, the PM said it was a negation of democracy.

Reacting to the Prime Minister's charges, the BJP said the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition had "committed to kleptocracy" and that loss of a "few crores" because of adjournments would be more than recovered if coal block licences were cancelled and allotted anew.

In a strongly-worded statement, the Prime Minister said, "The Opposition chose not to take advantage of the settled institutional practices dealing with the reports of the CAG, and insisted on disrupting the Parliament. This is a negation of democracy. If this thought process is allowed to gather momentum, that will be a grave violation of the norms of Parliamentary politics as we have understood it.

He slammed the Opposition (BJP) for their "thought process" and said while India is faced with many problems, but none could be discussed in the houses owing to disruptions every day.

"India is faced with many problems - there are problems of rising communal tensions, there are problems of regional and ethnic tensions, there are problems of terrorism, there are problems of Naxalism. Parliament should have debated all these issues. But Parliament was not allowed to discuss these very important issues before the country," said Singh.

"On the economic front, the world as a whole is faced with serious economic difficulties, grappling with recession, and we are trying to prevent India getting affected by what is happening in the outside world. Parliament should have discussed these issues - what is our economic strategy to deal with these global tensions, these global developments - but Parliament was not allowed to do any of these things.

"The result is, Parliament which is the forum, where we articulate our people's felt needs and felt urges, was totally paralysed," he said.

He urged people to make up their minds if logjam was the right way to sort out issues.

"I would like my countrymen and countrywomen to make up their minds, if this is the right way to serve our functioning democracy. We take pride in the fact, that we, since independence, have been a practising, functioning democracy.

"What we have witnessed in this session is a total negation of that, and all right-thinking people in our country should stand up and unitedly come up with the voice that come what may, Parliamentary institutions must be allowed to function with the norms as we have known them since India became independent," he said.

Later in the day, the PM issued a message to the nation where he again criticised the Parliament washout and said those who prevent Parliament from functioning, disable the voice of the people.

"The cause of the repeated disruption was that we had received a report of the CAG on the allocation of coal blocks which alleged some infirmities in the process. Instead of discussing this report in the PAC, which is the normal procedure, or even discussing it immediately in Parliament, which we offered to do, leaders of the opposition saw fit to demand my resignation before Parliament was even allowed to take a view on the report," said Singh in his message.

He said this was the road to a ´dysfunctional politics´ which will only produce ´agitational politics´ and a ´deeply divided and disenchanted country´.

He said the government was constantly distracted by the Opposition who prefer ´obstruction´ over ´discussion' and hoped the Parliament will be allowed to function properly in the winter session.

Indian parliament could not function the entire monsoon session over the demand of the Prime Minister´s resignation and cancellation of licences of coal blocks and an independent probe into the coal scam.

The BJP on Friday announced that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition that it leads will now take its protest on the coal issue to the streets.

Senior party leader Arun Jaitley said, "The UPA is a regime committed to kleptocracy - what we have started in this session will be taken to the people till we are able to restore fairness and some degree of accountability."

The announcement came shortly after Leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that top leaders of the BJP would meet on September 11 to strategise how to take the coal issue to every village.

"When Parliament ends this way, there is criticism - we are told that there is a loss since the Parliament wasn´t allowed to function," Swaraj said.

"In 2G this was the case, but when we look back, licences sold for Rs. 1600 crore is now being sold for a base price that will fetch the exchequer Rs. 1.26 lakh crore.

"So by losing Rs. 10-20 crore from loss of Parliament proceeding, if we can build pressure on the government, then that is acceptable," she added.

Defending the BJP's move to filibuster the entire session, the BJP leader said, "The governments corrupt face has been exposed. The BJP has shown the the biggest scam by the government."

"The proceedings of the Parliament were regular for the first few days till the CAG report on coal came out. We had said that we would allow the Parliament to function if coal block allocations were cancelled but that was not accepted," she said.

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