Silence is better than Thousands of Answers: PM
TNI Bureau: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh found it a very tough job to convince the Opposition while giving his statement in Lok Sabha over the CAG report on the allocation of coal blocks. He preferred to be silent on the issue while facing heats from the opposition.
While explaining his stand on the coal allocation controversy in Parliament, he was disrupted by the BJP members, who shouted loudly demanding his resignation for the loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
The opposition members were not in a mood to function the house smoothly and Dr. Singh had to speak amidst uproar. Before moving for the parliament, Dr Singh had preferred to make clear his stand on the CAG report on micro blogging site Twitter.
Analysing the week long uproar in both the houses of parliament, Dr Singh tweeted, “Hazaron Jababo se achi hai meri khamoshi, na jane kitne sawalon ki abroo rakhi (my silence is better than thousands of answers)”.
“I seek the indulgence of the House to make a statement on issues regarding coal block allocations. I wish to say that any allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by the facts”, he said.
He questioned the CAG’s audit report saying the observations of the CAG are clearly disputable. He assured the members that he was taking full responsibility for the decisions of the Ministry as the allocation was done when he was the Minister in charge.
However, he made it clear that there were no allegations of impropriety in the functioning of the Screening Committee. Whereas the CAG says that bidding could have begun in 2006 by amending the existing system administratively. This premise of the CAG is flawed, he said.
He said that the findings of the national auditor that the country lost thousands of crores because coal blocks were assigned without an auction are “disputable and will be challenged.”
He said that allocation had been done with an aim to attract private investment. The allocations of coal block were done on basis of recommendations by inter-ministerial panel, which have state representatives and the applications had also been examined by the committee which has state representatives.
But the facts speak for themselves and show that the CAG’s findings are flawed on multiple counts, he said. He appealed to the opposition to allow the House to run and debate the issue.
Addressing a press conference soon after the parliament was adjourned; BJP leader Sushma Swaraj slammed the government led by Congress. She said “The PM must take moral responsibility and quit. Congress has usurped revenue from coal blocks. In last 4 years, 142 coal blocks have been allocated. The PM is unnecessarily blaming the states. The PM’s statement has made our claim stronger. The UPA did not implement auction policy for 8 years.”
Commenting on PM’s statement, she said that Dr Singh has no answers to tough questions, therefore, he is maintaining silence over the issue. She said that this is the Congress that got benefits from allocations, not India. And now government is saying that no loss had occurred, she added.
Backing Sushma, Arun Jaitley said that Dr Singh’s statement is an assault on constitutional authorities. It is not fair that PM will blame the states for the loss. “The competitive bidding policy was proposed on June 28, 2004. States can’t decide on allocation of major minerals. The PM should not blame states for UPA’s failure. The PM must take moral responsibility and quit”, he said.
Talking to the reporters Sushma and Arun Jaitley said that the PM should cancel all 142 coal blocks and put them to competitive bidding. “Once you do that, the truth will come out.”
They also demanded SIT probe into the allocations. Sushma said that the policy was delayed by the PM to get benefits for the party. Jaitely made it clear that the intention to disrupt the proceedings of the parliament is not to disrespect the PM, but they are just highlighting the scam in cola blocks allocations.
LK Advani called PM’s statement on coalgate as disappointing. He said that Dr Singh should not have criticised the CAG report calling it based on flaw.