NEW DELHI: The government and opposition were headed for a showdown in Parliament with the BJP on Monday attacking the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh for making "unprovoked" comments about ‘many skeletons in opposition cupboard’ and alleging that he "micro-managed" the 2G spectrum allocation.
Contending that the Prime Minister was "hands on" and had "minute details" about the controversial spectrum allocation, the main opposition party demanded answers from him as it prepared to seek a debate in Parliament on corruption under rules that entail voting.
On the first day of the monsoon session on Monday, Left parties also decided to seek urgent debate on Tuesday on price rise by adjourning the question hour.
The government said it will reply to the charges in Parliament whenever any issue is raked up but linked the stepped up attack by the BJP to the increasing pace of investigations in some terror cases.
The BJP took strong objection to the Prime Minister’s comment that there are "many skeletons in the Opposition cupboard", saying it was "totally ill-advised and unprovoked" remark that had "vitiated" the atmosphere.
"I have to say with regret that the Prime Minister has vitiated the atmosphere by his unnecessary comment… It was a totally unprovoked and ill-advised comment. The PM’s representatives were reaching out to us very positively….. We had also said we want the House to function," the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, Ms Sushma Swaraj said.
Ms Swaraj, who addressed a press conference along with party colleague and the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mr Arun Jaitley, said the BJP will adopt a different strategy in this session of Parliament by cornering the government in the House instead of forcing adjournments as had been done in the past.
"We will not bring an adjournment motion in the House as then it gets disrupted…. Instead, we want a debate and voting on two issues — price rise and corruption… We want the session to be useful and purposeful," Ms Swaraj said.
At the same time, Ms Swaraj and Mr Jaitley made clear the party’s intention to attack Singh on 2G spectrum issue during the discussion on graft during this session.
"The latest disclosures reveal that the Prime Minister was involved in the micro-management of 2G spectrum and that even when two of the licencees went in for offloading their additional equity through the FDI route, he was informed about the legality of the act," Mr Jaitley said.
He was not impressed by the PMO’s statement which said that its communication to department of telecom about keeping the arms-length distance in the spectrum allocation in 2008.
"The phrase ‘maintaining arms-length distance’ cannot have different meanings… The Prime Minister is saying this to save himself," he said, adding no policy decision could be taken without the PM’s consent since he heads the cabinet.
"This government is on the back-foot and the guilty cannot set the rules," he said, questioning "Why should the guilty be kept behind the purdah (veil)?"
Responding to BJP’s attack, the Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram said the government would reply to the charges on 2G and other issues in Parliament.
"There is no allegation…When the debate is raised in Parliament the government will reply to the debate. The allegations made by the BJP, a political party, will be replied by the Congress party’s spokespersons," he said.