Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh on Wednesday attempted to downplay the controversy over former Union Coal Secretary Prakash Chandra Parakh’s remarks that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh should be held equally responsible in the coal scam case, saying the retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer should say whatever he wants before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“As far as Mr. Parakhs’s statement is concerned, he is a free man. He is free to make any statement, but instead of making statements he should say whatever he says in front of CBI,” Singh told media here. “The BJP should not forget the fact that the policy under which the allocation of coal blocks took place under UPA, the same was done under NDA. So, they should not act in haste, may be a finger of suspicion points towards them,” he added, while hitting back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its criticism of the Prime Minister.
The former Union Coal Secretary earlier today said if the CBI considers a conspiracy in this case then the Prime Minister should be held equally responsible being the final decision maker. Parakh, who has been named in the latest chargesheet filed by the CBI along with industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and his company, said there is absolutely nothing wrong in the decision. “So, to my mind I don’t know why the CBI has thought that there is a controversy. But of it is a conspiracy then there are different members to this conspiracy. Mr. Birla, who made a representation, is one conspirant; I who examined the case and made a recommendation, I can be another conspirant; and the Prime Minister as Coal Minister who took the decision is the third conspirant. So, if CBI thinks that there is a conspiracy then why did they chose and select Mr. Birla and me and why not PM?” asked Parakh. “If there is a conspiracy then we all three conspirants and he is the final decision maker,” he added, while talking to ANI in Hyderabad.
The 1969-batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, who was appointed Union Coal Secretary in March 2004 and remained in that post till he retired in December 2005, said it is for the CBI to answer as to why they have included him in the FIR.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) earlier in the day said the Prime Minister should take the final responsibility for the coal scam as the coal blocks allocation took place with his signature. Reacting to Parakhs’s remarks, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar described the coal scam to be a monumental corruption. “I don’t know the full details of what the role of the Coal Secretary in that particular case or what he has said in detail. But the fact remains that coal scam is a monumental corruption and that time the Coal Minister was the Prime Minister. And so every coal allotment has happened with his signature and, therefore, he has to take the final responsibility. That is why we said that he has to quit, but he has not done so,” Javadekar told ANI.
The CBI yesterday filed FIRs against Kumar Mangalam Birla and Parakh for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in allocation of two coal blocks in Orissa in 2005. The CBI, which has now filed 14 FIRs in this case, carried out coordinated searches at offices of the Aditya Birla group in Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar yesterday. The BJP has held the Prime Minister responsible and demanded his resignation for an estimated loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the national exchequer by the CAG in connection with the coal block allocation.
The CAG report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office, but the BJP is emphasising that the Prime Minister held direct charge of the coal ministry for the years under scrutiny.