New Delhi: It was another day of war of words between the UPA government and the main Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While the BJP hit out at the government over its zero-loss theory, the UPA question why the Opposition was not raising the issues inside Parliament.
This even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked for all coal allocation to be put on hold till the mine bill is ratified in Parliament, while senior BJP leader Arun Shourie broke ranks with the party supporting the call for a debate in Parliament.
In the latest development in the coal blocks allocation scam, the Prime Minister now wants that the Attorney General be consulted again.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, attacked the government over the zero-loss theory given by Finance Minister P Chidambaram calling it preposterous.
Dismissing the logic given by the government that there was no question of a loss as the coal had not been mined yet, Jaitley said, "Once coal blocks are allotted, then the right to mine is with the private companies and the government has no say on this. Even without actual mining, the government has lost control on those mines."
Reacting to Jaitley's attack, Finance Minister P Chidambaram questioned why the BJP was not raising the issue in Parliament.
He further questioned, "What about coal block allocations done during the BJP-led NDA rule between 1998 and 2004?"
Chidambaram, however, clarified on his zero-loss theory saying, "We did not say zero loss. We said there will be loss or gain only when coal is mined, not when there has been no mining in 56 blocks."
The Finance Minister also continued to attack the Opposition for stalling Parliament and not letting the Prime Minister speak in the House on the issue.
He said, "If PM is not allowed to speak in Parliament, is he not entitled to speak to the people? Why is the BJP shying away from a face-to-face debate?"
The call for letting the Prime Minister speak in Parliament over the issue gained support from an unusual corner as BJP leader and former telecom minister Arun Shourie said that the Opposition should agree to a debate on coal.
Shourie said, "Everybody should agree on debates and reports The grievance of the opposition is not debate because nothing will happen even after the debate They will not get anything even after stopping Parliament's work…I also feel that in the end opposition will not get anything."