/ Agencies) - Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh will address Parliament
today to clarify his role in "Coalgate," the scandal of rigged
contracts of coal mining that threatens to cost his resignation. The
prime minister may not even be able to enter the hall: for the past week in
fact, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leader of the opposition party, has
blocked all parliamentary activity, demanding the resignation Singh. Yesterday,
in New Delhi, the police dispersed hundreds of protesters trying to reach the
residence of Singh.
"Coalgate" exploded with the publication of a government report, which states that India has lost 33 billion dollars due to the sale of rigged contracts for 57 coal mines. The alleged offenses date back to the 2005-2009 period, the years when Manmohan Singh was Minister for Coal. Although the author of the report has exempted the premier from any liability, the BJP calls for his resignation. On 29 May last, when the first findings of the inquiry were published the same Singh indicated that he was "willing to withdraw from his public office, if found guilty."
India is one of the largest coal producers in the world, and for this reason the local newspapers call this scandal, "the mother of all scams". Last week the prime minister has said that he "can give satisfactory answers to all issues being raised." However, "Coalgate" is likely to definitively undermine the credibility of the Congress Part (the ruling party). For months, weakened by corruption scandals, with the election of its candidate Pranab Mukherjee as the new President India's main party had breathed a sigh of relief, pending the general elections of 2014.