JD-U distances itself from BJP over coal scam

It wanted discussion on CAG report

The Janata Dal-United (JD-U), a prominent Opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partner, has distanced itself from the BJP’s extreme stand against the Centre over the coalgate scam.

The JD-U move comes a day after the BJP-led NDA on Tuesday sought the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and gave a call for boycotting Parliament proceedings.

 On the second day on Wednesdayof the NDA protest, the JD-U said it wanted a discussion on the CAG report on the coalgate scam, a line the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is using to counter the Opposition stand that a debate on the issue in Parliament should be allowed only after Manmohan Singh’s resignation.

JD-U leader Shivanand Tiwari said on Wednesday that his party was ready for a debate in Parliament on the coal allotment scam. “We are ready for a discussion in Parliament. The government should give a clarification over its coal allocation,” he said. Following the adjournment of Parliament for the day, in the wake of NDA members paralysing both Houses over their demand for prime minister’s dismissal, JD-U president Sharad Yadav took a somewhat different stand. He said his “personal opinion” was for a discussion on the CAG report in Parliament. He, however, said, “But I am also bound by the NDA decision.”

The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned three times on Wednesday over the NDA’s demand for the prime minister’s resignation.

Yadav is also said to have talked to non-Congress parties, including the CPI, CPM, SP, TDP and BSP on the Opposition strategy. All non-Congress and non-BJP parties, according to sources, favoured a debate on the CAG report.

As the day progressed, the chasm between the JD-U and NDA became more apparent.

Yashwant Sinha, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Dharmendra Pradhan of the BJP staged a walkout from a Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting on the 2G scam held in Parliament Annexe on Wednesday afternoon. But the JD-U members were present in the meeting. Incidentally, Sharad Yadav is part of the committee.
 
“We walked out of the meeting after Congress members used foul language when we demanded settling the issue of list of witnesses which has been pending for eight weeks now. We walked out today,” Sinha told reporters. “We were accused by Congress members of turning the JPC into a kangaroo court,” the former finance minister added.

Though the other NDA allies, including the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal, are with the BJP in seeking prime minister’s resignation (as he was also the coal minister when the scam was brewing), some among the right wing party are sceptical of the political outcome of the extreme step taken by their top leaders.

In confrontation

Questions regarding whether the NDA members would resign from all the parliamentary committees or quit both Houses are confronting even some of the BJP leaders since it would be difficult for the alliance to come down from the stand they have taken.

The CAG performance audit report tabled in Parliament last Friday said a notional loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore occurred to the government due to lack of competitive bidding of coal blocks for the last eight years since 2004.

The non-UPA parties like the Left, AIADMK and BJD are in favour of a debate on the CAG report.  

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