New Delhi, Sept. 7: The BJP today stood by its decisions to stall Parliament for virtually the entire monsoon session and demand the cancellation of coal-block allotments, apparently unfazed by the flak it has received from industry representatives and the “editorial class”.
At a media conference, Opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley summed up their stand as a “battle for safeguarding the economic resources for a larger public good”.
“Even if there has been a loss of Parliament’s debating time, we are confident that this protest, coupled with our forthcoming battle from Parliament to the people, will cleanse the process for a fair system of the allocation of natural resources,” Sushma said.
Jaitley dismissed the comments by Adi Godrej, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and industry body Assocham criticising the party’s clamour for cancellation of coal-block allotments.
“These days,” he said, “I too use a phrase the Left is fond of using and that is ‘crony capitalism’. The CII and Assocham’s stand is very regrettable. It was an opportunity for these leading chambers to stand (up) against the scandalous allocation of natural resources. They failed to do so.”
Asked whether the BJP’s stance might affect investor and industry confidence, Jaitley said: “It will have a beneficial impact on the country because the windfall gains will go into the public exchequer if India adopts a fair allocation policy. When the 2G licences were cancelled, it did not lead to a catastrophe. It had a beneficial effect on the telecom sector.”
Godrej has said cancellation is “not the right step” because it will “negatively impact business sentiments, particularly in the power sector which is already hard hit by the lack of coal supplies”.
Assocham issued a newspaper ad accusing the CAG of causing an “environment of suspicion and distrust in the country” and appealing to “all stakeholders to desist from putting emotions over discretion in national interest”.
Sushma and Jaitley recalled that when the former NDA government was hit by the petrol pump allotment scam that implicated RSS and BJP members, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had revoked the allocations “in one stroke”.
Asked later if the scales of the two controversies were the same, there was no answer, however.
Queried on Ajay Sancheti, a party Rajya Sabha member and friend of Nitin Gadkari who secured a coal block in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh in a purported “global tender”, Jaitley claimed Sancheti was a “minority shareholder” in a PSU largely owned by the state government.
But he added: “We are not holding a brief for anybody, not even a party member. Let all be inquired into.”
Replying to the Prime Minister’s charge that the BJP had “negated democracy” by stalling Parliament, Sushma said: “He was the Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha (during NDA rule) and used these tactics to paralyse Parliament’s working on Babri, the kafan (coffin) scam. Democracy gives many protest mechanisms. Stalling Parliament is one.”
The BJP’s core group will meet on September 13 to plan an agitation that is expected to take the theme of the UPA’s “corruption” to the villages.