"There is no (no) question of the opposition letting off pressure on the Prime Minister to quit his office as he has been squarely responsible for the Rs 1.86 lakh crore coal scam which has taken place right under his nose as he held the coal portfolio for five years between 2005-09 in UPA I government," BJP national spokesman Ravishankar Prasad today reporters here.
"The Prime Minister's resignation was all the more warranted to give CBI - probing the irregularities in coal blocks allotment - a free hand to carry out the investigation as the agency directly functions under his command," he said.
The CBI will not be able to freely discharge its duties so long as Singh remained in office as the agency will also probe his role in the capacity as the coal minister, Prasad said.
Prasad said that it was for the first time Singh has been implicated in a scam as he headed the coal ministry during which the allotment of 145 coal blocks took place.
He also tore into Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram's defence of the UPA government and the Prime Minister on the coal scam and said that the latter had committed a mistake similar to his colleague Kapil Sibal in the 2G scam that later turned out to be false.
On Chidambaram's argument that there was no loss
incurred in the coal block allotment as mining did not place except in one block, Prasad said the government had "cheated" the country and its people yet against as it could not fulfill its promises of development in infrastructure sectors for which coal blocks were allotted.
"He (Chidambaram) is not the true in-charge of the treasury of the country if he says that zero loss was incurred in the coal blocks allotment," the senior BJP leader slamming Chidambaram for defending the government on the coal scam.
"Chidambaram is trying to mislead the country and its people."
There was indeed huge loss incurred by the country in the coal scam as pointed out by the CAG as the beneficiaries' companies' stocks skyrocketed after receiving coal blocks meant for economic infrastructure like electricity, cement and steel, he claimed.
"The country could have earned huge revenues if these coal blocks were auctioned after bidding instead of allotted without auction," Prasad said.
On the UPA government's claims the coal blocks were allotted after approval by the screening committee and the states owning them had vehemently opposed the auction, Prasad said the Centre had rejected various recommendations made by the state governments and the screening committee and went ahead with its own decision to allot coal blocks to the private players without auction.
On UPA government's yet another contention that Parliament was the appropriate forum for debate in public matters and the Parliament's PAC constitutional body to vet CAG reports, Prasad said that in the coal allotment scam there was nothing to discuss as it has been established beyond doubt that the scam did take place and that too when the Prime Minister himself was heading the ministry.
Patna: BJP stuck to its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation on the 'coalgate' scam and said it would not let Parliament function till he demits office owning up responsibility.
First Published: Saturday, August 25, 2012, 18:44