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Coal block issue: BJP rejects Cong attempt to shift blame

BJP rejected Congress attempts to shift the blame on BJP-ruled state governments on the coal block allocation issue and offered readiness to face a CBI probe if any of its governments` recommendations turned out to be malafide.



New Delhi: BJP on Sunday rejected Congress attempts to shift the blame on BJP-ruled state governments on the coal block allocation issue and offered readiness to face a CBI probe if any of its governments` recommendations turned out to be malafide.

Demanding the Prime Minister`s resignation on grounds of moral responsibility and constitutional accountability, the party defended its strategy of obstructing Parliament.

"If there has been any allocation of a coal block where there is malafide and CBI investigation is taking place, by all means, we never said don`t go ahead and take action. We agree...

"I have absolutely no hesitation that if there has been a malafide allocation of coal where the state government may have made a recommendation, please go ahead and make an inquiry," Sinha told a news channel.

He said that it is the duty of the state governments to make recommendations on allocation of coal blocks, but it was the responsibility of the Congress-led government at the Centre that had to take a final decision on the coal block bidding issue, which it held back for eight years.

"It was the responsibility of the Government of India, which had asked for the comments of the state governments, to take their comments into consideration. Take their concerns on board and take a decision," he said.
Sinha reiterated that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was the Coal Minister at the time such coal block allocations were made, should take the moral responsibility and resign.

"There is a criminal liability and there is a moral constitutional accountability. What we are demanding today of the Prime Minister is to resign on the issue of morality, on the issue of accountability," he said.

When asked if states should share the responsibility of losses on coal block allocation issue as they were opposed to the bidding process, Sinha said, "I don`t accept that contention at all. I strongly refute that contention.

"The whole purpose of this exercise is to somehow blame the BJP governments," the former Finance Minister said.

Sinha also defended the BJP action of stalling Parliament, saying it was the same that the Congress did at the time the Coffingate issue came up during NDA regime.

"You are saying we are not discussing it in Parliament. No we are not. You are accusing us of obstructing Parliament. I will take you back to what happened when the so-called Coffingate issue came up... They (Congress) are criticising the CAG today. The CAG was the dearest agency that they had in the Coffingate issue. Have you forgotten Tehelka...," Sinha said.

Sinha said BJP is not wanting the CAG report on the coal issue to be taken up in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament as this report will face the same fate as that of the CAG report on 2G-Spectrum issue.

"In the PAC, the procedure is that when you have a report a member can suggest amendments to that report. You can`t pick up the report and throw it like this in the face of the Chairman. This is what happened in the PAC. And this is what is going to happen in the JPC. And this is what is going to happen to the coal report...I`m not speculating. I am speaking from experience," he said.

Drawing a parallel from the GST issue, when the Centre brought about a constitutional amendment bill despite the states` opposition, the BJP leader charged the Congress-led government of adopting different yardsticks on various issues.

"In one case you want consensus. In another case you don`t want consensus...It is a matter of principle," said Sinha, while pointing out that the Centre brought about a Constitutional Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Parliament even when many states were opposing it.

PTI

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