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AUG 27 2012

Coalgate: BJP pooh-poohs Chidambaram’s no-loss claim

  • Economic Times, ET Bureau / Hyderabad
  • Created: Mon 27th AUG 2012

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is not the best custodian of the public exchequer, said the BJP, while dismissing his argument that coal block allocations resulted in no loss to the Government.

His argument is similar to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s “zero loss theory” on the 2G scam, the BJP said.

The Opposition Leader in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said there is no basis in the Government’s argument that there is no loss, as mining is yet to take place in those blocks. Jaitley said once the coal blocks are allotted to private parties, the right to mine lies with the allottees and not with the Government.

‘No discussion in Parliament’

“Even without actual mining, the Government has lost control over these mines,” Jaitley said, adding that there was a huge opportunity cost to the Government.

The BJP also made it clear that it is in no mood to allow a discussion on the issue in Parliament.

The party said, rather than allowing the Government to find an end to the debate in Parliament, it is interested in fixing accountability and punishing the guilty.

“There are occasions when obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefit to the country,” Jaitley said, pointing out that disruptions in the winter session in 2010 led to the JPC probe into the 2G scam, A. Raja’s resignation and auctioning of 2G licences.

Jaitley wanted Chidambaram to learn from Sibal’s mistakes. He said the ‘zero loss’ theory that Sibal had advocated in the 2G spectrum case had fallen flat.

“He had to eat his words,” Jaitley claimed. The BJP challenged the Government to auction the 142 coal blocks to know the market price.

The Left parties also said Chidambaram’s statement will precipitate a crisis. CPI leader D. Raja said the Prime Minister should not run away from Parliament. Raja said he is accountable for what has happened and owes an explanation in the House.

Police warning

against gherao

PTI reports: Erstwhile Team Anna was today warned by the Delhi Police against staging protests outside the residences of the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and BJP chief Nitin Gadkari here tomorrow even as differences cropped up among the activists on the issue of targeting the opposition party on the coal block allocation issue.

Police refused permission to ‘India Against Corruption’, led by Arvind Kejriwal, for holding a dharna at Jantar Mantar from where they plan to march for the ‘gherao’, seeking a fresh undertaking to abide by stringent conditions to avert any law and order problem.

Two days after the activists announced that they will ‘gherao’ Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Race Course Road residence and that of Gadkari here, Kejriwal today said they will also hold protests outside the residences of Sonia Gandhi and Chief Ministers of opposition-ruled States Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

Tags

Delhi Madhya Pradesh Odisha Finance

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