Coal scam: CBI affidavit in SC puts UPA in a soup
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: CBI's embarrassing admission before the Supreme Court Friday that its draft status report on the coal scam was shared with the government put the ruling UPA in a political quagmire and the opposition baying for blood of both the prime minister and the law minister.
The government, which is already battling a combined opposition onslaught on the coal scam in Parliament paralysed over this and on the JPC report on 2G scam, also faced fresh charges that it was in a mood for "confrontation".
Unfazed by Opposition's demand after the CBI filed its affidavit, the government ruled out the resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar who said he has done "no wrong" in the matter concerning CBI's report to the Supreme Court. It also rejected the demand for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While the CBI's affidavit was silent on whether government made any changes in the status report, the opposition piled pressure on the government wanting to know whether any tampering was done in the draft report.
The opposition was of the view that the two-page affidavit conceals more than it reveals.
"The Government has been caught with its pants down," senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, as he accused the Government of being in a mood for "confrontation" and that it was creating an environment towards this end.
"Truth must come out," said CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury.
CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was also confronted with a volley of questions on whether any changes in the status report on probe in coal scam were made on the suggestion of the law minister.
"I will disclose everything before the apex court," he told reporters.
Dropping a political bombshell, Sinha told the apex court that the agency's status report on coal allocation scam was "shared" with the Law Minister and senior officials of PMO and Coal ministry "as desired by them" before it was given to the judges.
"I have done no wrong. Truth will prevail," Kumar said after a meeting of UPA chaired by Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Singh.
Kumar, whose sacking is being demanded by the Opposition parties, also met the Prime Minister to give his version on the issue. He met Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath separately.
"There is no question of his resignation. He is not going to resign," Nath told reporters after the meeting when asked whether Kumar had offered to resign.
With regard to the CBI affidavit, Nath said, "It is for the court to decide."
Sources close to Kumar said he can't be "faulted" as it is in CBI's remit to consult the Law Minister on documents having legal ramification.
They also indicated that a meeting with CBI did not mean the CBI report was altered.
Suggesting that there was no wrongdoing by Kumar, Nath said CBI has stated that only the draft report was shown to the Minister and not the final report.
On BJP's demand for resignation of the Prime Minister, Nath said, "In the last nine years, they have put forth this demand every three months. It is not justified."
To a question why the officials of PMO and the Coal Ministry were also present during the CBI meeting with the Law Minister, he said the contents of the report were to be provided by the Coal Ministry and the Prime Minister had held the coal portfolio for some time.
"BJP is now fully firm on its demand for resignation of the PM. The CBI affidavit proves that the Prime Minister wanted to save himself from the CBI inquiry using the Law Ministry," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.
"Whatever applies to the Law Minister applies to the PM as well," said BJP's Jaswant Singh, stressing that both are equally accountable for a major breach of ethics and protocol.
Congress' erstwhile ally Trinamool Congress also joined the Opposition in demanding Kumar's resignation.
With PTI inputs