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Contempt of Parliament PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 24 August 2012 00:00
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How can the BJP say it doesn’t want a debate?

The BJP chief ministers who were against auctioning of coal mines are guilty of helping private firms cream R1.86 lakh crore off the exchequer. If the BJP feels the assertion is as absurd as it looks, and that its side of the story has to be heard first—that the chief ministers had absolutely no role in deciding who would get the coal blocks—surely the same has to apply to the Prime Minister whose resignation the BJP is demanding as a precondition to discussing the CAG report in Parliament? While the CAG report does point a finger at the Prime Minister in his role as the coal minister, it is not even the CAG’s contention that its report is a charge-sheet framed after some degree of forensics. If the Prime Minister is responsible for the losses based on a quick read of the CAG report, so must be the members of the screening committee?

Though it is obvious the BJP is whipping up sentiments as it feels it has the Congress in its cross hairs since coalgate happened when the Prime Minister was in charge of the coal ministry, the BJP would do well to recognise that the CAG report is subject to many interpretations. Take the R4,187 crore the CAG says is the net present value of the undue benefit got by the promoters of the Delhi airport. Does this pertain to revenue streams or to profits? If this is the loss to government, what of the share government gets by way of higher taxes on these profits? Questions such as these, and more, would get clarified if the BJP allowed a debate in Parliament. Ironically, a Parliament debate may actually help the BJP as it would get to explain the contours of the scam in great detail, on national TV at that!

In whipping up temperatures by getting its MPs to quit the JPC on 2G, by not letting Parliament function unless it has its way—in quite the same manner Anna Hazare wants only his Lokpal Bill passed—the BJP is making it clear it has no respect for Parliament. Given the BJP’s numbers, especially since it is not clear all its NDA allies are with it on the subject, it is obvious it cannot get its way in Parliament, it can’t even pass a no-trust motion on this. But that’s the way Parliament has been designed. Are we then to say that if a party cannot get its way in Parliament, it is all right for it to walk out and not let Parliament function? There is also the little matter of how, given the precarious state of the economy, Parliament needs to be allowed to function if we are to get even a semblance of much-needed reforms through. But that’s probably the last thing on the BJP’s mind right now.

 

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