New Delhi, Aug 27: The gloves were out Monday as the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) launched a full-scale attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), accusing it of "hijacking" parliament and "running away" from a debate on the allocation of coal blocks.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in the morning that the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) presumptive loss was disputable and flawed, Congress leaders addressed the media separately saying the BJP was unilaterally blocking the parliament while the government was ready for a debate.
"Every day that passes without parliament meeting and transacting business is a day that adds a black spot for democracy. Not discussing in parliament is a slap on the face of people who elect us," said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.
"We are always ready for debate on coal allocation," Chidambaram said.
The CAG report states there was a windfall gain to private players to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore ($37 billion) in the allocation of coal blocks.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said the report was beyond the CAG's mandate.
He said the UPA was ready for a debate in parliament. Whether there should be voting on the debate would be decided by the business advisory committees of the two houses, he added.
He said a debate on coal blocks allocation in parliament would "expose" the BJP and leave it with a "blackened face".
"It is an irresponsible statement. We challenge the BJP to come out with proof or take back its charge," said Tiwari.
Taking a dig at the Left parties, who demanded cancellation of the coal blocks, he said that "it was like putting the cart before the horse".
The BJP has been holding up parliament with demands for the resignation of the prime minister over the government auditor's report on losses to the exchequer.
The Congress accused the BJP of double standards in the matter pointing out that its own government in Chhattisgarh headed by Raman Singh said the CAG report was hypothetical.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said "no coal blocks were allocated in UPA-II" and though letters were issued in 2011, the coal blocks were allocated in 2008.