NEW DELHI: India's opposition vowed on Wednesday to block parliamentary proceedings until the prime minister resigned over a coal scandal, raising the prospect of more legislative deadlock and stalled reforms.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was implicated by the national auditor in a report published last Friday which suggested the government had lost out on billions of dollars of revenue by gifting away coal mining rights.
Singh, who has seen his reputation as "Mr Clean" plummet amid a string of scandals in his second term in government, served as acting coal minister from 2004-2009.
Senior opposition leader Arun Jaitley said his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would obstruct parliamentary proceedings until the 79-year-old Singh took personal responsibility and stepped down.
"Parliamentary obstructionism is normally to be avoided, but in rare cases parties do adopt it," Jaitley told the Times Now television channel in an interview as both houses of parliament were adjourned.
"The way forward is that the prime minister must accept his culpability. The reason is very obvious. For five out of the eight years (analysed by the auditor)... he himself was the coal minister," Jaitley added.
The threat to disrupt parliament comes as India's economy is badly faltering, with investors and business leaders looking for decisive action from the under-fire government to restore confidence and spur economic growth.
In 2010, the BJP and opposition allies blocked an entire session of parliament, forcing adjournments for 22 business days in a row which meant no legislation was passed.
The report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said private companies had made windfall gains of about $33.4 billion since 2004 after being given mining rights via a process that "lacked transparency and objectivity".
The government had known of the huge profits for private operators, but had failed to introduce an open bidding process that would have brought in revenue for the national exchequer, the CAG said.
The report did not contain any allegations of corruption or criminal practices.
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@BlackJack: "This is unlikely as they are present in only half the states that Congress is." In how many states were they present when they took over the Central government? BJP must not be allowed into power until they have shunted out Advani and his cohorts. If they are in the wilderness today, it is squarely because of Advani and his Bheeshma Pitamah. They reneged on solemn promises. They committed breach of promises, trust and faith!
@amalgam: Agree with you amalgam. Who would have thought that Sonia would align with DMK - whose support for LTTE she held directly responsible for Rajiv's death? Who would have thought DMK will stick around with Congress after Karunanidhi's daughter ws jailed for a little while not to mention Raja who is also cooling his heels in Tihar?
in the end, all posturing apart, the issue will be driven by who gets how many seats.
MMS is going to stay as PM till 2014. Simply because he has a majority. As per who is going to elected next time we will know only in 2014.
@Raj - USA: The reason that Dr. Singh was appointed was that he had no political ambitions or personal clout - despite having personal credibility and a clean image. Even if he goes, another puppet will be needed to keep the seat warm as the heir apparent will not want to step in at such a messy time. Nothing will change. @ashvinn: @amalgam is right in that a healthy tally is crucial for the BJP to install a candidate of their choice. Nitish Kumar has already issued a press release clarifying that he has not twisted the BJPs arm on the Modi issue - the objective is to indicate that nothing is off the table despite all posturing to the contrary. If the BJP can get the same score that Congress did in 2009 (around 206 seats), they will call the shots. This is unlikely as they are present in only half the states that Congress is.
Before anything good can happen - the Italian escort needs to be sent back to Rome.
well there is no untouchable in politics ,AMMA and BIJU,AKALIS,SS,MNS are there for him .All goes on VOTES
Dr. Singh should resign and another PM should be appointed. He has bee too soft on many issues. There has been too many corruption scandals in India. Only strong action on the PM would teach the politicians a good lesson. He may be personally clean but by protecting the corrupt he has become very dirty.
@G. Din: He is a non achiever.
@Indian Wisdom: "I don’t think toppling the current government is an option. Simply because there is no alternative at sight right now. BJP is not in condition to provide a stable government and third front is directionless. Its better that the govt. can take some tough decisions towards the much needed reforms."
They have not moved a motion of no confidence against the government. They are asking Singh to resign - on other words some other Congress person can become PM since Singh was coal minister while all these scams occurred.
That's your Perception . In my view and according to the latest indiatoday poll they can win majority with MODI as pm .if they get 200+ on their own nitish and others will come like flies on sweet . _
Correct but my point is for FRESH polls not for current situation .
@amalgam: The BJP is doing well in states where it has a majority on its own (excluding Karnataka) or is a strong stakeholder (like in Bihar with almost 40% of the alliance seats). In an unwieldy coalition, especially with its current number of seats (137) it will be held hostage to the whims of its allies to the extent that the Congress will seem like a better alternative. If the BJP wants to convince people that it is the best party to lead the next govt, it should focus its energies on improving its lousy PR and settling leadership issues instead of disrupting Parliament sessions - getting rid of Manmohan Singh will not bring them to power.
Pakistanis are the only ones who see halo around this man. TIME magazine rated him as an "underachiever" and in his own country, he has been described as "grossly overrated as an economist". This "Khadim-e-aalla" is an embarrassment to India. But, we have only ourselves to blame. Our own disunity allows such farcical characters to survive!
@amalgam: Accepted that Modi can be a good candidate. But question is of acceptability. BJP can't win the majority at its own (please accept the fact) and its partners(including Nitish Kumar) won't accept Modi . Further BJP is going through one of its worst phase where leaders are in strife with each other over petty issues, and you have rightly given example of Karnataka, where the symptoms most evident.
I beg to DISAGREE, BJP is providing the best india governments in states(Except KN) then why not in center with MODI as PM?
I don't think toppling the current government is an option. Simply because there is no alternative at sight right now. BJP is not in condition to provide a stable government and third front is directionless. Its better that the govt. can take some tough decisions towards the much needed reforms.
It happens every moment in Pakistan & then what? Nothing !!