New Delhi: After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's strong defence of coal blocks allocation in Parliament on Monday, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government has decided to take the Opposition, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party, head on.
Sources say the government is likely to bring a confidence motion in the Lok Sabha next week to show that it has the numbers on its side. Sources say that the UPA is united and all its constituents have assured the Congress of their support.
There is no question of cancelling coal blocks allocation and Manmohan Singh will not resign, but is ready with his defence in Parliamentary Accounts Committee.
A section of the Congress is keen to bring out the divide within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance on coal blocks allocation out in the open. Some BJP allies like the Janata Dal (United) and Shiromani Akali Dal have not been vociferous in demanding the Prime Minister's resignation and instead have been keen on a discussion in Parliament.
The move to seek trust vote, the first since 2008, comes after Manmohan Singh on Monday took the onus on himself for the coal blocks allocation from 2006 to 2009, giving an indication that he can lead from the front and was ready to take the challenge from the Opposition. "I want to assure Honourable Members that as the Minister in charge, I take full responsibility for the decisions of the Ministry," he said in his statement in Parliament.
Even as the Opposition continuously demanded Manmohan Singh's resignation and didn't let the House function, the Prime Minister defended himself saying the CAG report on coal blocks allocation was 'clearly disputable'. "I wish to say that any allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by the facts," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also spoke outside Parliament and appealed to the Opposition to let Parliament function and give him a chance to defend himself. "This is an occasion where I do want and I wish I should be given an opportunity to speak in Parliament and to the public at large and take them into confidence. The BJP is determined to disrupt the House," the Prime Minister said.
Taking to Hindi poetry, Manmohan Singh added, "Hazaron jawabo se achi hai meri khamoshi (My silence is better than many answers). This is one occasion where I wished to speak to Parliament and public at large. I am sorry that the House was not allowed to function and the BJP did not allow the House to function."
Manmohan Singh for the first time took charge and defended coal blocks allocation, which till now was being done by Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal. He has come out with a strong statement and taken a huge risk by taking the stand.
It is only for the second time that Manmohan Singh has taken such a strong stand on a policy decision. The first time he did so was on the Indo-US nuclear deal on which he staked the survival of the UPA-I government in 2008 and won a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.
If the Opposition is able to prove the charges of impropriety and irregularity against the Prime Minister, then he could be in serous trouble.
Earlier, on Saturday the Congress had challenged the BJP to bring in a no-confidence motion against the government instead of stalling Parliament proceedings.
The BJP would not be bold enough to take such a course of action as it would not only expose its "true colour" but also fissures in the party-led NDA, Congress spokesperson and JPC chairman PC Chacko said in New Delhi.
It would be fair on the part of the opposition to "bring a no-confidence motion against the UPA government instead of immobilising Parliament on a non-issue," he said.
"It is the duty of the responsible opposition to show readiness to discuss the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the presumptive loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore in allocation of coal blocks," Chacko, who heads the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the 2G scam, said.
"However, it is not desirable in a democratic set-up to demand the resignation of a democratically elected Prime Minister, accusing him of corruption, based on the CAG's findings of presumptive loss," he said.
Chacko said BJP knew that if a discussion on the issue was held in Parliament its "true colour" would be exposed as the party-ruled states had strongly opposed competitive bidding on the ground that it would adversely affect their revenues.
"If a discussion on the CAG report is held in the Parliament, BJP's true colour will be exposed and the Prime Minister will emerge clean in Parliament," he said.
BJP would never bring a no-confidence motion against the government, as even NDA partners would not support it, he said.
Chacko accused the BJP of following a "policy of disrupting proceedings" in Parliament on non-issues ever since it lost power in 2004 but Congress would do its "best to expose the double standards" of the principal opposition.
(With additional information from PTI)