BJP attacks UPA over missing files, Food Bill stalled
In a scathing attack by India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh became the latest target on Tuesday as the opponents demanded his statement on the missing files related to the coal scam, without which Parliament will not be allowed to function.
The attack had a bearing effect as the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was unable to push its crucial Food Security Bill.
The Parliament witnessed three adjournments on Tuesday amid uproar by the opposition over missing ministry files that could be linked to the coal scam.
The BJP targetted the Prime Minister over the missing files and said it will not allow the Parliament to function unless he makes a statement.
They demanded an explanation from the PM on how crucial files connected to the 'illegal allocation of coal blocks to private companies' went missing.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said: "Where is the PM? He must come and explain us how the files went missing and what steps are being taken to recover them."
"No other issue will be taken up unless we get an answer to this question. The UPA always tries to hide its wrongdoings with a new issue every day," she said.
In Rajya Sabha, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "We want the PM not the Coal Minister to make the statement."
Amid the ruckus, the government failed to push National Food Security Ordinance on Tuesday coinciding with the 69th birth anniversary of former PM Rajiv Gandhi.
The Bill will now be taken up on Thursday.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday made a statement on missing files related to the coal scam in the Rajya Sabha.
"It is true that some files are missing. We are trying to get the copies of those files ready," Jaiswal said in the Upper House.
"We are trying to find all documents that were not found in the coal ministry," he said.
"We would have lodged an FIR if the files were stolen, but they are missing," he said when Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley interrupted him and asked why a complaint was not lodged.
Raising the issue earlier, Jaitley also said there were media reports that one of the beneficiaries of the coal block allocation was some body with whom the Coal Minister was related.
Jaitley accused that "files don't disappear, they are made to disappear."
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 then. His statement made indirect allegations towards the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"I wonder as to who would want to make files prior to 2004 disappear?" said the Coal Minister.
He said he is ready to face action if found guilty.
"I am ready to face punishment if any of the allegations made against me are proven true," said Jaiswal.
An uproar started in the House immediately after Jaiswal made his statement.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm.
In both the Houses, the oppositions continued their relentless campaign for answers from the Prime Minister, who was in charge of the coal ministry for some of the years under scrutiny.
"It is only logical that the minister 'then in charge' should clarify in the house. The missing files relate to a certain period," said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Sitaram Yechury.
As many as 60 files are missing, of which 16 have been sought urgently by the Central Bereau of Investigation (CBI).
The Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report on coal block allocation estimated a loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the national exchequer owing to irregular allocations.
The CAG named 25 private companies as beneficiaries of coal block allocations in various states. They included companies like Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Power, Tata Steel and Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.
(Posted on 20-08-2013)