New Delhi: Renewing its demand for an "independent" probe into its charge that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was culpable in 'coalgate', Team Anna on Friday sought explanations from the government on why the coal blocks were allotted without auction.
Addressing a press conference, key Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said, “The clarification being given by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) regarding the coal scam is misleading. We want the PMO to tell why there was no auction before the allocation of coal blocks to the firms.”
Team Anna also categorically rejected the CBI investigation instituted by the government to reveal the truth and demanded a probe by an 'independent' agency.
"The CBI probe into the matter is just an eyewash. The CBI reports to the Prime Minister so it is obvious that after six-seven months of investigation, it will give a clean chit to him,” Kejriwal said adding, “We have no faith in the CBI probe at all and that’s why we demand a probe by an independent agency.”
The noted RTI activist, citing a Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report in this regard said that there were gross anomalies in the allocation of coal blocks during 2006-09.
“During 2006-09, the Prime Minister was the in-charge of the Coal Ministry. We want to know why during this period at least 145 coal blocks were allotted in haste as compared to mere 75 allotted in previous 12 years period.”
Driving his point home, he said, “In 2009, when the PM left the Coal Ministry, why only one coal block was allotted. We want to know why there was such a drastic decline in the number.”
The counter-reaction from Team Anna comes days after the Prime Minister rejected its allegations of corruption against him and offered to quit public life if the charges on coal block allotments are proved.
This was Prime Minister's first reaction to Team Anna members Prashant and Shanti Bhushan's allegations accusing him of corruption for the first time when they referred to a draft CAG report on allocation of blocks when he held charge of Coal Ministry.
Team Anna had alleged that the PMO overruled advice of the Coal Secretary in 2006 that coal blocks be auctioned, a decision which according to CAG fetched private players Rs 1.8 lakh crore in "undue gains".
The aggression of the Anna camp indicates its readiness to engage the government in a duel where, unlike in their previous showdowns, the PM will be in their direct crosshairs.
In fact, Hazare himself joined in the demand for the PM to face a probe, contradicting the perception of a division within Team Anna over whether to target the PM.
First Published: Friday, June 01, 2012, 14:39