New Delhi, Aug 24 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has paralysed parliament demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation but most other opposition groups favour a debate on alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks.
Leaders and MPs from more than half a dozen parties who spoke to IANS said a debate was necessary in both houses to know who the guilty were in what has been dubbed a major corruption scandal.
The government denies any wrongdoing, and has accused the main opposition BJP of running away from a discussion.
Barring the AIADMK, most opposition parties outside the BJP-led alliance are reluctant to back the demand for the prime minister's ouster without the customary debate.
We are part of the opposition, we have been stalling the house for four days, AIADMK Rajya Sabha leader V. Maitreyan told IANS, confirming its support to BJP.
Friday was the fourth day both houses of parliament were adjourned because of protests over an official report alleging huge losses to the exchequer when coal blocks were given away to private companies without being auctioned. The prime minister headed the coal ministry then.
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) says it wants action over the allegations but its demand is not limited to Manmohan Singh's resignation.
The guilty should be identified, and whether it is the minister or an official, he should be punished, AGP MP Kumar Deepak Das told IANS.
The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), otherwise passionately anti-Congress, also wants a debate.
It's not that black and white, BJD's Bhartuhari Mahtab said.
Asking for the prime minister's resignation is like asking for the entire government's resignation, he said. First the government should explain... The house should function.
Although very critical of the huge profits allegedly made by private companies in the coal sector, the Left is not backing the appeal for the prime minister's head.
Communist Party of India-Marxist's Sitaram Yechury said his party wants the prime minister to make a statement in parliament.
Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said the house should be allowed to function.
To run the parliament is primarily the responsibility of the government. But the opposition has an equally important role, he said, asking both sides to end the logjam.
Let the prime minister make a statement on what his role was (in the coal blocks allocation), he said.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) asked the government and the opposition to sort out the issue. The house should run, BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra told IANS.
Samajwadi Party's Shailendra Kumar said: There should be a discussion. Without discussion, how will the facts be known? The way parliament is being disrupted is wrong.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal attacked the BJP.
In a parliamentary democracy, debate should be the only option. Why are they stalling a debate, its leader Ram Kripal Yadav asked IANS.
In the Lok Sabha, Janata Dal-Secular's N. Chaluvaraya Swamy said a response from the government was needed over the allegations of corruption hurled at it. We want a discussion, Swamy said.
Even amongst the BJP's allies, not everyone is for crippling parliament.
Other opposition parties are not backing the demand for the prime minister's resignation, so what is the point, asked a Janata Dal-United leader. But we are bound (by BJP) as we are an ally.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said last week that lack of transparency in allocation of coal blocks to private players resulted in a notional loss of Rs.1.85 lakh crore ($37 billion) to the exchequer.
The audit report does not directly indict the prime minister or his office. But during the time these mining blocks in question were allotted, the coal portfolio was held by him - between July 2004 and May 2009.