India’s parliament was adjourned briefly today as the opposition called for the resignation of the prime minister, saying he was complicit in what has become known as “coal-gate.”
The uproar stems from an official audit issued last week accusing the government of selling coal mining rights for too low a price.
Tables pounding, the opposition BJP Party brought parliamentary proceedings to a noisy close as they shouted down the House speaker whose admonishments to allow debate couldn’t be heard above din. Opposition leaders vowed to continue to confront Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party over alleged corruption until it resigns.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is especially under fire because he was in charge of the mining sector at a time when India’s official auditor says the government allocated coal mines without competitive bidding or auctions. The auditor’s report says it may have cost the government $33 billion dollars in losses.
Some analysts call the mining valuation an over-simplification, and the government says the opposition is making a crisis where there is none. But the Congress Party already faces allegations about corruption on other fronts and questions about the mining sector come as India suffers energy shortages so severe that half the country lost power three weeks ago.