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Dubious coal block allocation should be scrapped, says Jaitley

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Thursday, while blaming Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh for the whole controversy, has demanded that such ‘dubious’ allocations should be scrapped immediately.

‘AG’s admission in the apex court questioned that had the PM chosen to assert himself at the right time would the situation had been different today?’ he said.

Referring to the massive corruption in the 2G spectrum allocation, organising Commonwealth games and allocation of coal blocks, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha said, ‘these scams have declined the image of the government. The government received several reports and the PM could have stepped in and changed the Organising Committee. Its chairman Suresh Kalmadi could have been asked to quit or sacked and the responsibility should have been given to the special secretary.’

Jaitley claimed that in 2007 (November-December), our PM has received reports that all is not well with the 2G spectrum allocation. ‘It exchanged correspondence with the telecom minister but lacked the courage to stop the allocation and scrap it altogether. In January 2008 our PM remained a mute spectator when the allocation had taken place to a favoured few,’ he said.

Speaking on dubious allocation of coal blocks, he said, in the coal block allocation, his culpability was higher since he himself was the cabinet minister for coal.

‘His choice of the ministers of state was a suspect. The coal blocks were being allocated on the basis of recommendations of the party. The allocation had been linked to the party’s fund raising campaign. There was no objectivity,’ Jaitley said.

He claimed, ‘The Attorney General had admitted before the highest court that the allocation could have unintentionally gone wrong. In the process power generation which is vital to this country’s economic development has suffered. India with 200 years of coal reserve is today importing coal. It is a drain on the foreign exchange reserves. Additionally, our goal of power on demand has not been realized. The power generation has not become a success story. There was an opportunity for the Prime Minister to have refrained from making these allocations.’

While pointing the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report on coal block, ‘The PM could have utilised that as another god sent opportunity to scrap the allocations. Today when the government admits through its principal law officer that things could have unwittingly gone wrong, there is yet another opportunity to correct the error. If this opportunity is not availed, the country stands to suffer in terms of delay in power generation.’

Party spokespersons Prakash Javadekar demanded the resignation of PM, saying the AG’s recommendation for de-allocation of coal blocks showed that something was wrong with the allocation.

‘The AG confessed in the Supreme Court that there was something wrong in the allocation of coal blocks since 2005. The onus is now on the prime minister, who was heading the coal ministry at the time of allocation. Therefore, we reiterate our demand that he must now own responsibility and resign,’ he said.

There are 32 coal blocks allocated after 2006 to private companies by the screening committee of the coal ministry, which are under scanner.
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