Coal blocks allocation scam: Odisha govt justifies Naveen Patnaik`s letter

Claiming that CM Naveen Patnaik has done nothing wrong by urging PM Manmohan Singh to examine Hindalco`s plea for a coal block, Odisha minister accused Congress of `disinformation campaign`.

PTI| Updated: Oct 19, 2013, 22:35 PM IST

Bhubaneswar: Claiming that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has done nothing wrong by urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to examine Hindalco`s plea for a coal block, an Odisha minister on Saturday accused Congress of a `disinformation campaign` against the BJD chief.
"Patnaik has done nothing wrong. Writing to the Prime Minister on issues is a practice which all chief ministers do. There is a disinformation campaign against Patnaik by Congress leaders who cannot tolerate Odisha government being praised for effective handling of cyclone Phailin," Agriculture minister Debi Prasad Mishra told reporters here.

Releasing letters written by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in 2007, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in 2007, Prakash Singh Badal in 2007, Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in 2007 and Union Food Processing Industries Minister, 2008, the minister claimed that many chief ministers and ministers have made requests to the Prime Minister favouring coal blocks for some company or the other.

"Therefore, we do not think to support allotment of a coal block to any private industries in the state is wrong," Mishra said alleging that the `information` that CBI will grill Patnaik was aimed to tarnish his image.

Demanding withdrawal of statements made by certain Congress and BJP leaders over the episode, Mishra said "The BJP must retrospect on its stand as party`s chief minister Raman Singh has also made similar recommendations."

The Prime Minister`s Office has meanwhile said there was no wrongdoing in Hindalco coal block allocation, he said.
Blaming CBI, BJD MP Pinaki Mishra said "It is a caged parrot which has been part of the disinformation against Naveen at the instruction of its political masters.

"It is a mischief done by Congress who cannot tolerate international acclaim for Naveen in the post-cyclone period," the BJD MP alleged.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJD did not deny the allegation that Adita Birla Group`s charitable trust had donated Rs 5 crore to it prior to the general elections in 2009.

"Indian companies can give donation to political parties. If Birla`s trust has done so, there is nothing wrong. They might have given a cheque," said BJD vice-president Damodar Rout while responding to media reports.

Rout, also the Health minister said "It is not that the Birla`s trust gave a donation to BJD alone. They must have also made similar donations to other political parties."

Odisha Janmorcha leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who was looking after BJD`s party affairs during the 2009 elections, also said there was no relation between coal block allocation and donation to the regional outfit.

Mohapatra, however, claimed that Patnaik was now thoroughly exposed as he wrote to the Prime Minister supporting a coal block allocation to Hindalco after the screening committee turned down the proposal.

"Why did Naveen write a letter favouring Hindalco after its proposal was turned down?" asked Mohapatra, once a close friend of Patnaik.

Claiming that the CBI might question Patnaik, the OJM leader said "He cannot escape as the Supreme Court is monitoring the case related to coal block allocation though Naveen managed to escape CBI grilling in the Sainik Mining case."