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Aug 31, 2012, 03.48 PM IST
Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Indian Express spoke to CNBC-TV18 about the political stalemate. According to him, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has now realized that logjam has become counter-productive. Hence, he expects some sanity to return in the Parliament session on Monday.
According to him, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has now realized that logjam has become counter-productive. Hence, he expects some sanity to return in the Parliament session on Monday.
"The Coalgate is not mirror image of the 2G scam; we haven't seen criminality or money exchanging hands. Resolution cannot be resignation of Prime Minister or cancellation of all coal blocks," he added.
Below is the edited script of his interview with CNBC-TV18’s Udayan Mukherjee.
Q: What did you make of the statements coming in from Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Left parties yesterday?
A: I think the game is now on, so each one is making his move. I think the two groups have different positions. Samajwadi Party for example is not demanding wholesale cancellation of everything but obviously with such a big story going on, Samajwadi Party doesn’t want to be either seen to be not doing anything or siding with the Congress party. So everybody is sort of posturing and positioning themselves.
Q: They also seem quite opposed to the idea of parliament being boycotted continuously, is there even a slim hope that Monday we might see at least a few sessions of parliament happening and some business being conducted?
A; There might be an element of wishful thinking to what I say but I think there should be some possibility because there are people in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who have begun to see how this is now becoming counter productive because BJP has made maximalist demand, it doesn’t quite wash given the fact that most of the coal mines that were given away are in BJP states or were in Orissa when Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was an ally of the BJP.
Now to say that coal is a major mineral and Central government can give it to who they want, is a bit rich in today’s overly federal environment. When a couple of states can get together and even block something like NCTC, you don’t really expect people to believe that they will let Centre yank coal mines out of their control or out of their territory and given them to other people. So BJP is now beginning to look a bit silly and is also begun to look it has a lot to hide. The fact is the Congress is on its knees, it is becoming unpopular, and The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) doesn’t look good as per a poll done by one of the channels. UPA is in trouble.
But I think this is not the best way for the BJP to exploit it. Some people in the BJP believe it but the dominant majority as yet doesn’t. I do believe however that weekend is a long time in a parliament session and some little bit of sanity will come back because you have to find a resolution to this within parliament. Resolution cannot be that Prime Minister resign or all coal blocks be cancelled, an FIR registered against everybody. Because so far unlike the 2G scam, so far you don’t see any criminality, you don’t see any money exchanging hands. You see impropriety here and there and quite a bit of impropriety in some cases. But this is not to my mind a case that is the exact parallel or mirror image of the 2G scam.
Q: Which way is the wind blowing in New Delhi right now, Monday there is an important IGM meeting to consider the coal blocks, do you sense that there will be a mass scale de-allocation or heavy penalties being levied etc. Just to assuage the sentiment of the NDA and to just reduce the flak on the government a bit or do you think a pragmatic outcome is more likely?
A: It is lot of allotments. So if you strip it down on merit, performance etc you will find that a very considerable number of these are indefensible. I am sure the government has not to find a way of at least cancelling those because many of these are totally arbitrary and given to people who are never going to need this coal for their own needs.
In India, under law you cannot sell coal, so can you sell a mine. Many of those cases have now to be quickly sorted out and cancelled because it can be nobody’s case that this entire allocation was totally kosher there are problems there. Now, whether there are problems in these 57 or the rest but there are problems here. There is a public outrage, you have to respond to it and the sooner they respond to it the better.
I see a very interesting suggestion from Deepak Parekh about setting a committee of three wise men. I think it’s a bit like Satyam to set up a small committee of wise people who put everything together at a time when global economic crisis was on and a big Indian IT company’s collapse could have had a Domino effect. This same government was able to handle it very competently; the problem here is that the same government has taken these decisions. For them to be going back on this so quickly, and in such a hurry would strengthen the impression that they have a lot more to hide yet they have to find a mechanism to do this quickly.
One, to save their own skin which is more important to them. Second, to make sure it doesn’t have an adverse effect on India’s economy or image or any further adverse effect. Third, also to be fair to genuine users because many of these are genuine large users who are signing or signed power purchase agreements. So you cannot just sweep everything with the same broom.
For complete interview watch video.
Tags: Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express , Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Parliament session , Coalgate, 2G scam, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), United Progressive Alliance (UPA), coal blocks
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