EXCLUSIVE: Commendable that PM took responsibility, says Parakh

Former coal secretary Prakash Chandra Parakh hailed the Prime Minister for expressing his willingness to be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the coal blocks allocation case.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2013, 23:48 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Former coal secretary Prakash Chandra Parakh on Friday hailed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for expressing his willingness to be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the coal blocks allocation case.

On Thursday, the PM said he "was not above the law" and had "nothing to hide".

"It is commendable for PM to take responsibility upfront," said Parekh in an exclusive interview to Zee Media.

However, Parakh said that it was for the CBI to decide whether it should question the PM in the case or not.

The issue came into sharp focus after the CBI filed an FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, his company Hindalco and Parakh over two coal blocks in Odisha`s Talabira allocated in 2005.

Parakh pointed an accusing finger at the Prime Minister, saying if he was involved in the conspiracy, Manmohan Singh too was equally responsible. The PMO promptly defended the allocations saying they were done on merit.

Replying to a question if Dr Singh should continue to hold his post, Parakh said: "In this case, there is no scam and hence no action is called for."

Parakh also admitted writing a 14-page letter to the then Cabinet secretary BK Chaturvedi on March 22, 2005 that coal mafia is not outside the government, but within the Ministry of Coal.

He, when asked which minister or leader protected the coal mafia, said that he did not name any specific person in the explosive letter.

The former coal secretary added that he neither expected nor got a reply of his letter from Chaturvedi.

When asked if he was being pressurised by the then Coal Minister, Parakh replied that he never succumbed to any sort of pressure.

He emphasised on the need to have as much transparency as possible in governance and strict enforcement of law by the administration to tackle coal mafia.

He added that he has not only got support from the Indian Administrative Service officers but also from all sections of society. "The CBI should be more circumspect and not jump to conclusions," he, however, cautioned.

Commenting on Assocham`s strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concerns on famous industrialists’ name being dragged into the coal allocation scam, Parakh said this action of CBI has sent a wrong message to both investors and civil servants.

The industry body has also cautioned that such instances could impair decision making too.

Manmohan Singh was holding the charge of the Coal Ministry in 2005.