New Delhi: Pressure seems to be growing on the UPA government from within its own constituents. With the first week of the reconvened session of Parliament almost being a washout, the National Congress Party (NCP) has thrown a sharp hint. It says that any failure to pass the Finance Bill in Parliament this session can bring the UPA government down.
The NCP leaders will hold a two-day meet in Mumbai to take stock of the situation. "A political party should always be ready for polls. The Finance Bill will decide the fate of the government," NCP leader Praful Patel said.
This comes at a time when pressure from the Opposition is also growing on the UPA over the coal scam affidavit. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitly has said that the Opposition will be satisfied with nothing less than Law Minister Ashwani Kumar's resignation.
The government, however, remained defiant and said there was no need for the minister to resign. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ranjit Sinha on Friday informed the Supreme Court that the draft report on the coal block allocation scam was shared with Law Minister Ashwani Kumar before its submission.
The affidavit, which the probe agency filed with the Supreme Court on Friday morning, has given more ammunition to the Opposition, which has been demanding resignations of both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kumar.
"Truth will prevail. I have done nothing wrong," said Kumar, who met the Prime Minister shortly after the CBI submitted its report. "Political executives did not see the final status report given to the Supreme Court. There is no need for the Law Minister to resign," Parliamentary Affair Minister Kamal Nath said, backing Kumar. Sources have said Congress President Sonia Gandhi is also against Ashwani Kumar's resignation.
The latest controversy on coal scam and a adamant stand by the main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also raised doubts over the passage of the Finance Bill. Nath even visited BJP veteran leader LK Advani to seek cooperation for the passage of the Bill.
Sinha has said in the affidavit that the draft of the report was shared with Kumar "as desired by him", a charge that the Congress has been rejecting. The director has also said the draft of the report was even shared with a joint secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Coal Ministry officials.
Sinha's two-page affidavit filed on the direction of the apex court contradicts the claim made by CBI counsel on the last date of hearing that the coalgate scam report was not shared with any member of the government. The government had asserted it did not vet the the probe agency's status report.
"I submit that the draft (status report)of the same was shared with Law Minister as desired by him prior to its submission before the Supreme Court.... it was also shared with one joint secretary level officer each of Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Coal as desired by them," the affidavit said.
The Congress core group and UPA allies met to discuss CBI's coal scam affidavit. Sources said decision on Kumar will be taken on April 30 depending on Supreme Court's observation on affidavit.