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Aug 20, 2013 at 03:52pm IST

BJP ups the ante against PM over missing coal files, stalls Food Bill

New Delhi: On a day when the Congress was hoping to get the Food Security Bill passed in the Lok Sabha, the BJP stepped up its attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the missing files in the coal scam. The BJP stalled both Houses of Parliament demanding that the Prime Minister makes a statement on the missing files.

This came even as Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal made a statement in the Rajya Sabha. The government said the Coal Minister is ready to make a statement in the Lok Sabha, too. However, the BJP demandeed that only the Prime Minister makes a statement on the missing files.

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"The Prime Minister should explain the House on the missing files. The Supreme Court has ordered that the concerned person hand over all the files to CBI and who is the concerned person? It is the PM who had the Coal Minsitry then, said Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.

Sources now say that the Prime Minister is unlikely to make a statement on the missing files in Parlaiment. The Lok Sabha has been adjourned till Thursday. The government questioned the Opposition's motives in disrupting the House asking why they wanted the PM to speak on every issue.

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The UPA was hopeful that its ambitious Food Security Bill will be passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The government had agreed to some amendments to win over key allies and spoke to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Telugu Desam Party, which has been constantly disrupting the House.

Earlier, in his statement in the Rajya Sabha, Jaiswal said he was ready to face any punishment if found guilty of the allegations. At the same time, he asked Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley as to what punishment he would undergo if the case was otherwise. "All efforts are being made to locate documents which are not readily available...My Ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI," he said, adding a total of 769 files and documents running into 1.5 lakh pages have been handed over to the investigating agency.

Raising the issue earlier, Jaitley said there are media reports that one of the beneficiaries of the coal block allocation was some body with whom the Coal Minister was related. He alleged that the files were not missing but made to have gone missing.

"If files relating to that allocation are missing, should he be making a statement on those files. I want to know from the Chair that on account of this conflict of interest, should he make the statement...If not direct, it is a case of indirect involvement," said Jaitley.

Replying to the opposition attack, Jaiswal conceded that some files are missing and hence an inter-Ministerial Committee headed by an additional secretary has been set up to look into the issue and any action will be taken only after its report. "The mandate given to the Committee is to examine and review non-availability of files/documents and suggest appropriate action," he said, adding the Committee has held two meetings and documents are being located.

Amid slogan shouting by BJP, Jaiswal said some documents belonging to a period prior to 2004 are missing and alleged who had the interest in getting the files to pre-2004 period missing while pointing the needle of suspicion at NDA regime.

(With additional information from PTI)

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