Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Dec 17:
The CBI should question Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik before it quizzes former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the case involving the allocation of the Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks in Sundargarh district, BJP state unit President Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo demanded today.
“We demand that the agency should first quiz the Odisha Chief minister before it interrogates the ex-Prime Minister on the issue,” Singhdoe said briefing newsmen at the party office here.
Patnaik had made a strong case for allocation of the Talabira coal blocks, earlier allotted to the central PSU Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), to the Aditya Birla Group company Hindalco in a letter to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on August 17, 2005, the BJP leader pointed out.
The special CBI court in New Delhi on Tuesday had directed the central agency to examine former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held the additional portfolio of Coal at the time of the controversial allotment.
Talking about the visit of Amit Shah to the state on January 6, Singhdeo said the BJP national president will arrive at the Biju Patnaik Airport at around 9.25 am.
“He will be given a rousing welcome by the party members and supporters at the airport and then he will attend a public meeting at Unit- VI ground near Capital Hospital. Thereafter, he will have a meeting with party office bearers at about 3.30 pm and then will go for Jagannath darshan in Puri,” the state unit president said.
The next day, Saha will address a press conference at the party office here at about 3.45 pm and will leave for New Delhi at around 5.50 pm, he added.
“The state government is unwilling to provide the Lower PMG Square for public meeting. So, we changed the venue to Unit- VI ground. We are expecting a crowd of around one lakh,” said the state BJP president.
Singhdeo alleged that the state government did not allow his party to hold meetings either at the PMG Square or any school ground in the capital city.
“While the school ground is available for the Chief Minister to hold party meetings, the same is denied to a leader of national stature,” he noted.
Rubbishing the BJP’s demand for interrogation of the Chief Mminister, BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said the party should not forget that it is not above the Supreme Court, which is monitroing the CBI probe in the coal block case.
“Just because the special court has directed the CBI to examine Manmohan Singh, it does not follow that the Chief Minister should eb interrogated too,” he said.
Newly appointed Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan said Naveen Patnaik should face the CBI investigation as the coal block had been allocated on the basis of his letter of recommendation to the Centre.