The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday accused the UPA-II Government for hiding facts in the coal allocation scam by citing the excuse of ‘missing’ files and demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s clarification on it in Parliament. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged the Prime Minister’s involvement in this case and said many questions need to be raised.
“How these crucial files were lost, why? Someone is trying to hide something. There is involvement of PM also, about whom large number of questions had to be raised. One of the law ministers had to be removed earlier. Therefore, we demand that let the Prime Minister respond, assure the nation and we are going to raise the matter in the parliament,” he said. Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal accused the Government of diverting people’s attention to issues like Telangana and Food Security Bill, so that the pressure related to his case ends.
“This is a serious issue. Big names are being associated with this. The question is why did the files disappear and who is involved in it?” he questioned. “Government is bent on suppressing the cases of corruption. They are trying to divide the country and Telangana is one such example. Their intentions are to divert people''s attention from corruption to other issues. That is why they also want to introduce the food bill. But, people''s attention will not be diverted from corruption and the government is bound to fall,” he added.
The Union Coal Minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal yesterday admitted that some files from 1993 to 2004 were missing and a committee headed by an Additional Secretary of the ministry is inquiring into it. "It''s true that some files from 1993 to 2004 are missing. We are trying to get the copies of those files ready," Jaiswal said. Jaiswal further said that the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited (CMPDI), Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Cement have also been asked to return the files if they have them.
He added that the Coal Ministry has given 768 files to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the investigation was still in process. The CBI had on July 31 said that at least five crucial files related to allotment of coal blocks during 2006-09 have not been received by it despite providing specific details. The CBI has so far registered 13 cases related to block allotments during 2006-09 for alleged misrepresentation of facts by the beneficiaries while applying for the blocks. The Coal Ministry had earlier in June constituted an Inter-ministerial panel to look into the issue of missing files.
The panel has so far held one meeting. The Coal Ministry had some time back informed a Parliamentary committee that it is trying to locate lost and missing files on coal block allocation after the Supreme Court said that the Centre was not aiding CBI with documents in its probe. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on coal block allocation stated that nearly 150 coalfields were allotted to private and state-run firms without transparency and objectivity between 2005 and 2009.
The BJP has held Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh responsible and demanded his resignation for what has been estimated as loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the national exchequer by the CAG in coal block allocation. The CAG report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office, but the BJP is emphasizing that the Prime Minister held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for the years under scrutiny.
However, the Prime Minister had rejected the CAG’s observations as ‘misleading’ and ‘flawed’, and blamed the opposition parties for thwarting the efforts of his government to bring a policy of competitive bidding. Dr. Singh also ruled out any possibility of quitting the top post despite the BJP firm on its demand for his resignation over the coal blocks allocation issue.