Millennium Post

Time to probe CBI’s probings

In a bewildering turn of events, the CBI’s booking of the Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy in connection with coal scam, as well as dragging the name of former coal secretary P C Parakh into the muck, are something that need urgent perusal, either in the media or by the officials themselves. While the exact nature of evidence that has been shored up against the duo remains vague and in oblivion, the fact that Parakh, who is known for his honesty and integrity and is one of the primary voices that had been demanding that the coal blocks be auctioned via competitive bidding, as was procedurally required, is included in the chargesheet, is beyond reason. In fact, Parakh had been the whistleblower who pulled the lid off the entire Coalgate nexus and brought to public light how the coal blocks were being acquired by prominent industrialists at throwaway prices. While even the chargesheet against these corporate sector companies, particularly the Jindal Group, and the members of the government who have been extending unscrupulous cooperation to the former, such DN¬¬ Rao, the former MoS coal – have not been framed properly, the country’s top probing body seems to have taken off on a tangent and has made a beeline for the individual who has been quietly trying his best to ensure that the lid comes off the massive corruption case involving one of the nation’s crucial natural resource.

In this unsavoury context, PC Parakh’s categorical statement saying that since the PM’s was the last word on the coal block allocations, his name too should be included in the FIRs, must be given its due. Is the 14th FIR in the coal scam, that against KM Birla, for ‘conspiring to accommodate Hindalco Ltd in mining of Talabira II coal block in Odisha, which was allocated to Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), a public sector unit, on 10 November 2005,’ a mechanism to shield Manmohan Singh, as claimed by a number of experts and opinion columnists? Moreover, what we need to ask is for how long has the CBI been in possession of the so-called evidence against Birla and Parakh – are they newly acquired proofs or has the bureau been sitting on the forensics, waiting the green signal from the UPA government to unleash them when the time was right. Evidently, the case against Birla, who has considerable stake in a particular media group that has been relentlessly criticising the government for its various failures, whether in the corruption cases or in the current economic slowdown, seems tailormade not just to shield important union cabinet figures but also to shut up the media barrage against the UPA’s cardinal sins.
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