BJP targets PM over coal blocks, Congress hits back

Posted on October 16, 2013 from New Delhi ι Report #2

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The Congress Wednesday advised restraint to the BJP after a former bureaucrat pointed a finger at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the irregularities in coal block allocation, saying the matter was sub judice.

"Responsibility and propriety demand" restraint when proe into the matter is being monitored by the Supreme Court, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said in retort to the BJP's demand that the prime minister take "a final responsibility" in the coal scam.

The political slugfest started a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed first information reports against former coal secretary P.C. Parekh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in the allocation of two Odisha coal blocks in 2005.

On Wednesday, Parekh said it was Manmohan Singh who decided allocation of the two blocks and if there was indeed a conspiracy, the prime minister, who headed the coal ministry then, was equally involved.

"I don't know why the CBI thinks Birla and I are in a conspiracy, but the person who took a decision is not a part of (the) conspiracy. If a conspiracy is there, everyone is part of the conspiracy. If we are accused, PM is as much a part of the conspiracy," Parekh told TimesNow.

Seizing on this, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) targeted the prime minister and said he should take "final responsibility" for the irregularities in coal block allocation.

"The fact remains that coal scam is a monumental corruption and at that time the coal minister was the prime minister... So every coal allotment has happened with his signature and, therefore, he has to take final responsibility," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He blamed the Congress for the scam.

"The Congress is engrossed in a massive cover-up and is trying to save the PM. This is a complete scam and Congress wants us to believe they gave it (coal blocks) for free," he said.

The Congress hit back at the BJP.

"The BJP is a self-propelled and self-firing automatic weapon which is unfortunately full of blanks," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.

"To expect anything else from BJP except irresponsibility would be expecting the Sun to rise from the west rather than the east," said Tewari.

Stating "the BJP has been saying this for the last 10 years," Tewari said "responsibility and propriety demand that in an investigation which is being monitored by the apex court, people need to be restrained in their utterances".