Congress trying to water down probe in coal scam: BJP

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Hyderabad, October 19:  BJP on Saturday asked the Centre to explain why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name was not included in the FIR in the coal blocks allocation scam even as it accused the Congress of trying to water down the probe.

“Instead of probing into allegations against the Prime Minister, Congress is trying to water down the investigation and implicate and harass those who exposed its misdeeds,” senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said in Hyderabad.

Referring to the naming of former Union Coal Secretary P. C. Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla in the latest CBI FIR in the scam, Mr. Naidu wondered why the Central agency shied away from naming the “competent authority”.

“Who is the competent authority? Why is the CBI shying away from naming the competent authority? Competent authority is the Minister. Who is the Minister…Prime Minister! Why is the CBI shy of naming him?” he asked at a press conference.

Maintaining that the coal gate probe might ultimately reach the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), he asserted that the “PMO includes PM”. “There is no PMO without the PM. People should understand this. Without PM, can there by a PMO?”

Referring to Mr. Parakh’s claim that if he was guilty, the Minister (concerned) was also guilty, the BJP leader demanded that the Congress and CBI respond to it. “Parakh only proposed…PM approved. But PM is not being questioned. What do you answer to this?” he asked.

“The entire country feels that you (Congress) are doing all this to save the real culprits and hence resorting to diversionary tactics. Even a kid would say CBI stands for Congress Bureau of Investigation.”

The Rajya Sabha MP said the Central Government should also explain the inclusion of Mr. Birla’s name in the FIR.

Birla has a good reputation. Has his name been included in the FIR because he recently acquired a 46 per cent stake in a leading news magazine? The ex-BJP chief asked.

He noted the magazine has been publishing a series of stories about the country’s dwindling economy, defence issues and also about the “weak PM” in recent times.

“Congress is clearly trying to implicate and harass those who exposed its misdeeds,” Mr. Naidu alleged.

The FIR has named Mr. Parakh and Mr. Birla for “criminal conspiracy” with regard to allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha in 2005.

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