Parliament disrupted over missing coal ministry files
The issue of missing files relating to coalgate paralysed proceedings in Parliament on Tuesday with BJP demanding an immediate response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, even as the government said it will leave no stone unturned in tracing the documents.
Amid cries of “shame-shame” and “pradhan mantri jawab do”, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj raised the issue and said the Prime Minister should come to the House and assure members that the CBI probe will not be hampered due to the missing files.
She said as the Prime Minister had recently taken full responsibility in the Lok Sabha, it was incumbent upon him to take the House into confidence as to what had happened to the 147 missing files.
Claiming that the files included applications for coal blocks, she alleged that they have gone missing as some big shots of the Congress were involved.
Ms. Swaraj wanted the Speaker to direct the Prime Minister to come to the House and make a statement. Dr. Singh had held the coal portfolio from 2006 to 2009 when the coal blocks were allocated.
Efforts on to trace missing files: Govt
Rajya Sabha also witnessed uproar after which Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal made a statement saying that a committee has been constituted to go into the issue of missing files which has held two meetings.
Mr. Jaiswal sought to mollify the opposition as he said he was ready to face any punishment if found guilty of the allegations.
At the same time, he asked Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley as to what punishment he would undergo if the case was otherwise.
“All efforts are being made to locate documents which are not readily available…My Ministry would leave no stone unturned in tracing and providing the documents sought by the CBI,” he said, adding a total of 769 files and documents running into 1.5 lakh pages have been handed over to the investigating agency.
Raising the issue earlier, Mr. Jaitley said there are media reports that one of the beneficiaries of the coal block allocation was some body with whom the Coal Minister was related.
“If files relating to that allocation are missing, should he be making a statement on those files. I want to know from the Chair that on account of this conflict of interest, should he make the statement…If not direct, it is a case of indirect involvement,” said Mr. Jaitley.
“Propriety demands that the Minister should voluntarily not speak…it should be the Prime Minister who should speak,” said Najma Heptulla (BJP), asking the Chair to give a ruling in this regard.
The uproar led to adjournment of Lok Sabha till 1 p.m. and Rajya Sabha till 2 p.m.
M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said the Prime Minister should come to the House and assure it that the files are safe. He demanded that the issue related with files should be taken up first.
Deputy Leader of Opposition Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the coal scam as the biggest one and alleged that some of the missing files are related with companies associated with members of the ruling party.
“We want it (statement) from the Prime Minister. Serious questions are being raised about the Minister,” he said.
The issues of Telangana and onion prices were also raised in the Lok Sabha which saw strong demands from AIADMK and DMK that India should boycott the proposed Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet to be held in Colombo in November as Sri Lanka was violating human rights of ethnic Tamils and targeting Indian fishermen.
TDP MPs were in the Well with their protest entering the third week. MPs from Congress opposing creation of Telangana held placards and shouted slogans from their benches.