New Delhi: The coal impasse has ended in the Parliament with the government on Thursday agreeing to an intervention by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on missing files related to coal block allocations when it comes up for discussion on Friday.
The government was forced to make the statement in both the Houses. While in the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that the PM could intervene, Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla told the Rajya Sabha that the Prime Minister could speak on the matter.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal will make a statement on Friday which will be followed by a discussion immediately after Zero Hour, Rajya Sabha deputy Chairman P J Kurien told the House. "We are ready. The Prime Minister will be there. The debate can take place after Zero Hour," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said when members wanted to know when the House would take up the debate. Shukla had earlier told the House, "Prime Minister may also intervene in case it is required."
Earlier in the day, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath asserted in the Lok Sabha that "the government has nothing to hide and nothing to conceal" in the missing files matter and that the Prime Minister "can intervene" in a debate on a statement by Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.
"The Coal Minister will make a statement. Thereafter a discussion can be held in the House in which the Prime Minister can intervene," Nath said after a strong demand by opposition parties. Opposition has been stalling Parliament over the issue of
files related to coal block allocations going missing and has been pressing for a statement by the Prime Minister to end the
Prior to Nath's assurance, the Lok Sabha saw unanimous demand by Opposition members seeking clarification from the Prime Minister on the missing files. Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the files belonged to the period when "the Prime Minister was in charge" of the Coal Ministry from 2006 to 2009.
"From the very beginning, we wanted the House to function. But that does not mean we will allow the government to do whatever it likes...We request you (Speaker) to ask the government to urge the Prime Minister to clarify on the issue to make the House run," Swaraj said.
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said, "Prime Minister is in the House...Prime Minister should give his reaction." Responding to him, Shukla said Jaiswal made a statement on the issue on Tuesday. "Some clarifications were sought (and) clarifications were given. (However) it remained inconclusive. We are ready to conclude that discussion and if necessary Prime Minister may also intervene," he said.
Dharmendra Pradhan (BJP) also raised the issue during Zero Hour demanding that the Prime Minister come to the House and speak. "The Prime Minister will have to break his silence," he said, adding that the opposition wanted to "break the slumber of the government".
Jaitley again said during Zero Hour that a discussion on the missing files issue could start as the Prime Minister was available after the Lok Sabha adjourned for the day. In Lok Sabha, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta made the same demand and alleged that the files contained information on "important persons" and they went missing in an attempt "to cover up the whole operation and ensure that those guilty are not punished. It is a serious offence." Terming the coalgate issue as "the biggest scam ever in the country, amounting to a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore," Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) wanted to know whether the government had lodged an FIR to find out who was responsible for the files going missing.
AIADMK's M Thambidurai sought a clarification from Singh, while JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav wanted the government to find a
"middle path" to allow the House to function. V Maitreyan (AIADMK), who had given a notice for suspension of Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, said missing of important files has been termed by CBI Director as a "serious setback" to investigation.
"The Prime Minister necessarily needs to intervene and clarify the matter," he said. Earlier, Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) alleged that Jaiswal should not have made the statement as it was in conflict of interest since he was arbitrator in deciding on a family feud in a company which was a beneficiary of coal block allocation.
(with additional inputs from PTI)