BJP poses more questions to PM, Jaiswal over coal block allocations (Lead)

September 11th, 2012 - 11:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Stepping up its offensive over coal block allocations, the BJP Tuesday demanded a probe into allegations of conflict of interest against Congress leaders and attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal for continuing allocations after the screening panel met.

It also said party leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Murli Manohar Joshi are scheduled to meet President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday to build pressure on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government over its demands related to coal block allocation.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said that party leaders were likely to demand resignation of prime minister, cancellation of coal blocks and a probe by special investigation team into the allocations.

Attacking the government, party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was amazing that entrepreneurial abilities of brothers of UPA ministers shine only in the latter’s period in power.

Demanding cancellation of 142 blocks and special investigative team probe under supervision of Central Vigilance Commission, Prasad said Central Bureau of Investigation had capability to conduct a probe but would not be able to do a fair job “because scam reaches the door of prime minister”.

Attacking Jaiswal, Prasad asked if the minister was an “arbitrator” in a family dispute of businessman Manoj Jayaswal, who has been named in FIR by the CBI in its probe of coal block allocations.

He also demanded a probe of revelations that National Thermal Power Corporation had awarded a coal mine contract to a joint venture company in which 10 percent shares were held by Congress leader Santosh Bagrodia’s family.

Prasad also referred to allegations of conflict of interest surrounding Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai following revelations that he had written to prime minister recommending a steel company of which his brother was an honorary director.

“It is surprising that brothers of UPA ministers became big entrepreneurs soon after they became ministers,” Prasad said.

He said there was need to investigate how the coal mine contract worth over Rs.26,000 crore was given to a joint venture company in which Bagrodia’s family was shareholder.

The BJP leader also claimed that Jayaswal’s company had got coal blocks and got thousands of crores of rupees as loan from banks.

He said Jayaswal had written a letter to his father and had conveyed that 26 percent shares in family-owned AMR will be transferred free of cost to Lokmat group.

“The rights of the balance 14 percent needs to be decided by Shri Shriprakashji. AMR has been allotted coal blocks because of efforts of Lokmat group. The commitment should be honoured,” Prasad said reading from the letter.

AMR Iron and Steel is among the companies named by the CBI in its FIRs. Vijay Darda, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP and associated with Lokmat group, has also been named in FIR.

Prasad said several leaders of Congress and of parties aligned with UPA were embroiled in coal allocation controversy including Sahai, Darda, Jaiswal, MP Naveen Jindal, former minister Prem Kumar Gupta, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting S. Jagatrakshakan and former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda.

Noting the government itself admitted that the last meeting of screening committee was held in 2008, he sought a reply from prime minister over allocations of blocks for three subsequent years.

“How is it that 17 coal blocks were given to 36 companies in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Manmohan Singh, you were coal minister for majority of period (between 2004-2009). How do you explain it?” Prasad said.

He alleged many companies given blocks had suppressed facts and were not eligible.

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