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All's not coal

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejected the Congress-led UPA government’s no-loss theory on the allocation of coal blocks to private players, alleging it was trying to mislead the people yesterday.

“When coal blocks are allocated, the right to mine rests with the private allottees, not the government of India. Even without actual mining, the government has lost control over those mines at a throw-away price,” said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.

“When the 2G scandal happened, Kapil Sibal — now communications minister — propounded the zero-loss theory. He could not mislead the people and eventually had to eat his words,” said Jaitley.

Meanwhile, the Congress party reiterated Chidambaram’s observation that the alleged loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore to the national exchequer is only “presumptive, since there was no production from the mines,” while urging the Opposition to resume parliamentary proceedings.

Congress leader Sandeep Dixit said he agreed with Chidambaram’s Friday comment.

“I would differ from Arun Jaitley’s view that since the mines have been handed over to private players, the issue of presumptive loss holds ground,” Dixit said.

“The CAG has not said anywhere that the loss has been of Rs 1.86 lakh crore. The report says that by giving mines to private bidders, over a period of 30-35 years, they would have earned profits to the tune of the said figure, and if competitive bidding would have been done, a part of it could have gone to the government as taxes,” he added.

“If Parliament would have been allowed to work, and discussions would have been allowed to take place, Chidambaram would have presented his case, and Arun Jaitley or Opposition could have debated the issue.”

Kejriwal calls for protests
Former Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal accused both Congress and BJP of looting Rs 1.85 lakh crore through the allocation of coal blocks to private players, and called for protest against them today.

Yesterday, Kejriwal asked the people to protest outside the residences of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Bharatiya Janatya Party president Nitin Gadkari.

“Prime Minister, BJP president and Congress president will be gheraoed on Sunday. Let us assemble at Jantar Mantar at 10 am on August 26,” Kejriwal wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter.

The Congress and the BJP have got together to loot $37 billion in coal scam, he said.

In the wake of the protest, six Delhi Metro stations around the residence of the Prime Minister will be shut Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm.

Five of the six stations — Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan, Race Course and Jor Bagh — are on the Gurgaon-Jahangirpuri route. The sixth, Khan Market, falls on the Badarpur corridor. “We are closing the stations following a Delhi Police order,” said a Metro official. 

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