BJP wants Bansal, Ashwani to quit before backing key Bills
New Delhi: BJP on Monday said new submissions by CBI to the Supreme Court show government had made significant changes in the agency's status report on Coalgate scam and insisted it will support Bills on food security and land acquisition only after the Railway and Law Ministers quit.
The CBI affidavit in the Supreme Court today gave fresh ammunition to the main Opposition which charged the alterations made at the behest of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar were "damaging" and aimed at protecting the government on the coal mines allocation issue.
Referring to Para 19 of the CBI affidavit, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the portion where the probe agency had stated that it is not clear on what basis weightage was given to those who got the mining contracts have been removed at the instance of the minister.
Similarly, the broadsheets which were part of the CBI report on coal block allotments have also been omitted. Another significant change is removal of the section where the agency wants to know why the criteria of auction suggested by CAG in 2004 has not been followed even till 2010.
"These are extremely major changes... The investigation was directed at the Coal Minister and the Prime Minister. In a way, the report was shown to possible suspects," Jaitley said.
On the issue of Railway Minister PK Bansal's nephew's alleged involvement in the bribery case for a plum posting in the Railway, Jaitley said there is a "rythm" in the way the files moved and the money paid.
"The person who was given the bribes is an alter ego of the Railway Minister in politics and business," he said, and asked "why should strangers be paid bribes?"
Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj expressed her ire at government's attempt to get the Food Security Bill passed in the House amid the din. She said BJP wants this legislation and the Land Acquistition Bill be passed but this is possible only after Bansal and Kumar quit.
"This government is not only corrupt but is also an oppressive one. Outside Parliament, it indulges in corruption and inside Parliament, it acts as an oppressor.
It tried to get the Food Security Bill passed in the Lok Sabha today thinking this will divert the country's attention from their corruption. This is condemnable," Swaraj told reporters.
Claiming that BJP is also keen on passage of the Food and Land Acquisition Bills, she said such far-reaching legislations cannot be passed without a proper debate.
"But when the atmosphere is so tense inside the House and members are protesting and voicing their demand for the resignation of ministers, an attempt to pass such Bills is improper," Swaraj said.
She maintained that other opposition parties as well as government allies like SP were protesting.
She pointed out that there is time for the government till May 10 to get these two Bills passed but it should first ask the two ministers to step down.
BJP boycotted the Business Advisory Committee Meeting of the Lok Sabha today.
Deputy Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that it is "very disturbing" that the Law Minister has misled about not making changes in the CBI report on coal blocs allocation issue and even the Attorney General has not spoken the whole truth in the matter.
Alleging the disclosures made so far clearly show that a "conscious attempt" was made to weaken the CBI report, Prasad wanted to know why the minutes of the meeting between the Law Minister, the CBI Director and the Joint Secretaries of the Coal Ministry and the PMO were not taken down.
"This shows that it was a hush-hush meeting and the minutes were deliberately not taken so that the government could deny and disown, if confronted," Prasad said.
He sought to know who authorised the Joint Secretary in the PMO to attend the meeting and indicated such permissions are usually given by the department head.
"Since the coal portfolio was held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at that time, his role should come under close scrutiny," Prasad said.