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Govt agrees to Opposition demand, PM may speak on coal issue

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Govt agrees to Opposition demand, PM may speak on coal issue
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New Delhi: In a bid to end the stand-off, government Thursday bowed to opposition demand by agreeing to an intervention by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on the issue of missing files related to coal block allocations whenever a debate is taken up.

Asserting that "the government has nothing to hide and nothing to conceal" in the missing files matter, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said in the Lok Sabha that the Prime Minister "can intervene" in a debate on a statement by Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on the issue.

"The Coal Minister will make a statement. Thereafter a discussion can be held in the House in which the Prime Minister can intervene," Nath said after a strong demand by opposition parties.

A similar indication was given in Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla after AIADMK members stalled Question Hour seeking response from the Prime Minister on the issue. "Prime Minister may also intervene in case it is required," Shukla told the House which saw a brief adjournment soon after it assembled for the day.

Opposition has been stalling Parliament over the issue of files related to coal block allocations going missing and has been pressing for a statement by the Prime Minister to end the stand-off.

Prior to Nath's assurance, the Lok Sabha saw unanimous demand by Opposition members seeking clarification from the Prime Minister on the missing files.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the files belonged to the period when "the Prime Minister was in charge" of the Coal Ministry from 2006 to 2009.

"From the very beginning, we wanted the House to function. But that does not mean we will allow the government to do whatever it likes...We request you (Speaker) to ask the government to urge the Prime Minister to clarify on the issue to make the House run," Swaraj said.

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