Karaikudi: Attacking BJP for paralysing Parliament, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday asked the party why it was not ready for a debate on the coal blocks issue and rejected criticism of the theory of loss due to the decision.
He also challenged to face a discussion on the issue of coal blocks allocation made during the tenure of BJP-led BDA government between 1998-2004.
"If the BJP has such a strong case, why don`t they debate the subject in Parliament," he said, reacting to BJP leader Arun Jaitley`s criticism of the government and his assertion that his party is in no mood to allow Parliament to function till its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s resignation is met.
Jaitley told a press conference in Delhi today that a nationwide debate is on on the coal block issue though it is not taking place in Parliament. "Our strategy does not permit that we allow the government to use Parliament to end this debate without any accountability. We want the debate to go on further," he had said.
Chidambaram said "That is what I would like to ask them. Why debate the issue on television. Why not in Parliament. Why doesn`t he (Jaitley) raise the issue in Parliament."
He also wanted to know whether the BJP was prepared for a debate on the coal block allocations made during the BJP-led NDA regime between 1998 and 2004.
Proceedings in both the Houses were paralysed for the entire week on the coal block allocation with BJP and other NDA members engaged in disruption. BJP has also threatened continued paralysis of Parliament in the week ahead.
Replying to Jaitley`s criticism of his `no loss` theory in regard to the coal block allocations, the minister said the government never said there was "zero loss".
"We did not say zero loss. We said there will be loss or gain only when coal is mined, not not when there has been no no mininig in 56 blocks," he said.
"There is a potential gain when coal is mined and sold. Where is the presumptive loss or gain when mining has not not taken place," Chidambaram countered.
Chidamabaram said Jaitley was attacking the statement that was never made and that the correct statement was made in reply to a question.
He said, "If PM is not allowed to speak in Parliament, is he not entitled to speak to the people? Why is BJP shying away from a face-to-face debate?"