PM should be 3rd conspirator: Former Coal Secy

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 16:57

Hyderabad/New Delhi: Facing CBI charges of conspiracy and corruption in coal blocks allocation, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh on Wednesday asserted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the final decision maker and must be counted as a "conspirator", prompting BJP to demand a through probe.

Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, Parakh and others have been booked by CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha eight years back.

After registering the fresh FIR with a CBI court here, agency teams carried out coordinated searches at nearly six locations in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneshwar which included offices of Hindalco and residence of Parekh in Sikandarabad, Hyderabad.

Dubbing the allegation against him as baseless, Parakh said he saw nothing wrong in the government decision.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the decision. It was a very fair and correct decision that we took. I don't know why CBI thought that there is a conspiracy," Parakh said.

"But, if there is a conspiracy, then there are different members in this conspiracy. There is K M Birla who made the representation, he is one conspirator. I, who examined the case and made a recommendation, I can be another conspirator and the Prime Minister, who as the Coal Minister, took the final decision, is the third conspirator.

"So, if the CBI thinks there is a conspiracy, why did they choose and select Mr.Birla and me and not the PM.If conspiracy is there, then everyone is part of the conspiracy," he told television channels, adding that after Shibu Soren resigned as Coal Minister, the Prime Minister had then directly taken charge of the ministry.

BJP came out all guns blazing following Parakh's remarks, saying "Accountability of the Prime Minister and the PMO is equally important. Therefore, we demand a fair investigation."

Parakh's statement "merits serious consideration," BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Describing Parakh as an upright IAS officer, BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said,"The time has come for Parekh to speak up. He has spoken a little, he should come out clean now, make public statements of how files were disposed off at that time (when the PM was in charge of the Coal Ministry).

"...How chits were received from Congress party headquarters in the PMO and PMO transmitted those instructions to the coal ministry for allotment of coal blocks," he said.

"I found merit in the representation and suggested that Hindalco and Neyveli form a joint venture. My recommendation was approved by the Prime Minister," Parakh said.

Asked if CBI omitted Prime Minister's name purposely, the former bureaucrat said, "This question should be asked to CBI on why his name is omitted."

After registering the fresh FIR with a CBI court here, agency teams carried out coordinated searches at nearly six locations in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneshwar which included offices of Hindalco and residence of Parakh.

Dubbing the allegation against him as baseless, Parakh said he saw nothing wrong in the government decision.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the decision. It was a very fair and correct decision that we took. I don't know why CBI thought that there is a conspiracy," he said.

He also said then Minister of State in the Coal Ministry Darasi Narayana Rao must be named by the CBI as the files went through him.

In reply to a poser, Parakh said he never faced any pressure from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) over the issue of allocation of coal blocks Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks in Odisha. "Lobbying by MPs, yes, but there was no pressure from the PMO," he said.

Claiming that the CBI has failed to distinguish between "a fair and correct decision and a wrong decision", he said the agency has not appreciated the issues involved in the case.

"If CBI behaves like this, then people will find it difficult to take decisions, especially young officers. It should have a relook at the entire case and scrap it," he said.

He said as Coal Secretary he had tried to make the coal block allocation process more transparent by recommending open auction and e-auction by amending the relevant Act.

He claimed then Coal Minister Shibu Soren was opposed to the idea. But when he resigned from the government, the Prime Minister approved the idea and asked him to prepare a note for the Union Cabinet.

Parakh said the PMO was opposed to bringing an ordinance to change the law and preferred bringing a bill in Parliament.

CBI named 46-year-old Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, along with Parekh and unknown persons and officials of Hindalco and Coal Ministry in the FIR, the 14th in the multi-crore scandal, for alleged criminal conspiracy and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

PTI
First Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 16:39

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