Friday, August 31, 2012

Mulayam steps in, opens a new front on coal scam




Non-Cong, non-BJP group wants cancellation of licences, judicial probe and debate


New Delhi: Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav stepped into the Congress-BJP logjam over the coal scam based on the C&AG report. He convened a meeting of the non-Congress, non-BJP allies, which included the communist parties, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The meeting had decided to hold a dharna at Parliament House on Friday morning demanding the cancellation of the 140 licences, setting up of a high level judicial probe and a discussion in the two Houses on prime minister Manmohan Singh's statement about the C&AG report on coal allotments. It was also decided that the probe has to be time-bound and that the guilty should be punished.

This is a third formation in parliament apart from the UPA and NDA, whose demands with regard to coal scam are different from the BJP's maximalist condition – the resignation of prime minister Manmohan Singh. The demands of the new formation are tough as well because the government is not likely to concede on the issue of cancellation of licences and not too keen on a judicial probe. The Congress is only prepared for a discussion on the PM's statement and on the C&AG report coal blocks allotment.

There is more to Singh's initiative than meets the eye. He is keen not to let the big players, the Congress and the BJP, dominate the political arena, reducing the others to mere spectators, or forced to join either side. Some view Singh as a man who is trying to make things a little easy for the Congress. But he is also seen as a man difficult to pin down. He is seen as a UPA ally as well as someone who is critical of the UPA. He did not support Pranab Mukherjee for president in the beginning but he ended up doing so.

Asked about Singh's dependability as an anti-Congress ally, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury said that his party would like to go along with SP as far as it can so that there is a determined opposition to both the Congress and the BJP. Yechury said that the ruling party and the main opposition were conspiring to shut out debate in parliament.

Yechury said that the prime minister's statement raised more questions and they need to be discussed. He also expressed apprehension that the ruling party members cannot be trusted to allow the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to do its job with regard to the C&AG report because the PAC was not allowed to give its report on the 2G spectrum scam.

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