UPA and BJP locked in standoff over coal report

FP

Demanding the resignations of both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar over the government's alleged interference in the CBI's status report on the coal blocks controversy, the BJP continued to disrupt both houses of Parliament on Tuesday.

As reported by The Indian Express, the law minister and officials of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) are reported to have vetted the CBI's status report.

Dismissing the BJP's demand for the PM's resignation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, while speaking to the media, retorted: "Let them ask". The BJP immediately hit out at her for her "arrogant response".

"I am not surprised by Sonia Gandhi's reaction. When it is an issue of cover-up, the UPA chairperson would be happy that the CBI has been brought under control," said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

The standoff between the two parties on this issue, coupled with the alleged attempt to blame the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in the JPC's draft report on the 2G scam, threatens to wash out the remaining part of the budget session.

BJP leaders asserted today that "confrontation is inevitable" unless references to Vajpayee are removed from the JPC report.

Earlier in the day, the BJP parliamentary party passed a resolution seeking the resignations of Singh and Kumar. "The Prime Minister's Office and the Law Minister have blatantly interfered in the functioning of the CBI while investigating the coal block allocation scam. The UPA government first indulges in corruption and then subverts institutions to suppress the truth. It stands exposed before the country. The BJP demands that the Prime Minister and the Law Minister resign immediately," it said.

The BJP said the government should present the full facts — the original CBI affidavit, revised affidavit and the exchange of emails between PMO officials, the Law Ministry and CBI. "Men can lie, but circumstances do not lie. The original CBI status report, the doctored CBI status report and there must be lots of e-mail exchanges between the Law Ministry and CBI, or between PMO and CBI... place them before the Supreme Court. We do not want interpretation by the CBI or the government. Let documents speak for themselves," said Jaitley.

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