New Delhi, Oct 24:
The Prime Minister, dragged into an alleged scandal on irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks said today, “I am not above law; I am ready to face CBI in coal scam probe.”
The tweet this evening from the prime minister’s office comes days after he defended his government’s decision to allocate two coal blocks in Odisha to Hindalco,a firm owned by industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.
KM Birla and the government’s former coal secretary PC Parakh have been accused by the CBI of criminal conspiracy in the deal.
The CBI has not named the Prime Minister in its FIR but has said the contract was endorsed by “the competent authority,” which is being interpreted as a reference to Dr Manmohan Singh since he held charge of the Coal Ministry at the time.
Dr Singh had earlier said the deal was “entirely appropriate.” The opposition has reiterated its demand for his resignation over this case as well as the coal scam as a whole.
In 2012 the CAG had said that the lack of a transparent bidding process for mining rights had cost the country 1.86 lakh crores.
The CBI has requested the Prime Minister’s Office to hand over all documents relevant to Mr Birla’s coal block deal including the letter written by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik to the PM to favour Hindalco.
According to sources in the CBI, once the agency reviews the files, it will decide whether Dr Singh and Naveen Patnaik need to be questioned.
(With inputs from NDTV.com)