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Coal scam: No quid pro quo with BJD, says Odisha BJP


Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, July 26:

Rejecting allegations of a quid pro quo between it and the BJD in the CBI decision to spare Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from questioning in the coal scam, The Odisha unit of BJP today demanded that the Chief Minister should be interrogated in the case.

KV Singhdeo, President BJP, Odisha
KV Singhdeo, President BJP, Odisha

After the CBI’s decision not to question Patnaik, there was speculation that the decision of the central invetstigating agency was part of a ‘deal’ between the BJD supremo and the Narendra Modi government to ensure smooth passage of various Bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is in a minority.

“BJP’s position is very clear. Whenever any contentious issue will arise, the government will hold discussion with them and will try to push it through in the upper house. They don’t need to go on bended knees to the tainted BJD. There is no quid pro quo,” said state BJP president KV Singhdeo.

Singhdeo said the investigation had just started and hoped the chief minister would be questioned in the coming days.

“There is no question of sparing Naveen Patnaik. The investigation process of CBI has just started. They have questioned former steel and mines secretary of Odisha Bhaskar Chatterjee and would obviously interrogate the chief minister for writing letters favouring private players,” said the state BJP president.

Even though the Congress is little bit sceptical over the move, it still believes that Naveen Patnaik would be quizzed to unravel the truth behind the recommendations favouring private companies.

“I don’t want to jump the gun at this stage and say there is any deal between the BJD and BJP. But I still believe CBI would interrogate the chief minister to unearth the whole mining mess created by the state government,” said Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra.

Mishra demanded that whoever is involved in the scam – be it the chief minister or any other minister – should be investigated. “I want that the truth should come out and guilty be punished,” said the senior Congress leader.

Naveen Patnaik is under a cloud for writing letters recommending private players for coal block allocation in the state.The chief minister had written four letters at different points of time to the Centre for allotment of coal blocks to private players like the Jindal, Birla and Tatas.

The CBI is currently investigating the allocation of the Talabira II coal block in Sundargarh district, which had earlier been allocated to Neyveli Llignite Corporation (NLC), in favour Hindalco, an Aditya Birla group company.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 requesting him to cancel the allocation to NLC and allocate it in favour of Hindalco instead.

Based on the Chief Minister’s letter, NLC’ s allocation was cancelled and the coal block was allocated to Hindalco.

After questioning Chatterjee, CBI was reportedly ‘satisfied’ with his clarifications and felt there was no need to question in the matter, as per a report published in The Economic Times yesterday.