New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take "final responsibility" for irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks and demanded his resignation.
The party was reacting to former coal secretary P.C. Parakh who Wednesday said it was the prime minister who decided the allocation of two Odisha coal blocks in 2005 over which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed first information reports (FIRs).
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar alleged the Congress was trying to save the prime minister. Meanwhile, the Congress asked the BJP to exercise restraint as the matter was subjudice and lambasted it for targeting the party.
"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 the final responsibility," he said.
"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," Javadekar added.
The CBI Tuesday filed FIRs against Parakh and industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla for alleged irregularities and criminal conspiracy in the allocation of the two blocks.
Parakh said he did not know why the CBI thought Birla and he were in a conspiracy and the person who took a decision was 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," Parakh told Times Now.
Javadekar said the FIR against Parakh "is a method to scare the bureaucracy". "It is high time bureaucrats speak up against all wrongdoings," he said.
Javadekar said Parakh had first prepared the cabinet note suggesting auction for coal block allocations and if the route had been followed, the "scam" would not have occurred.
He alleged the suggestion had been "deliberately kept in cold storage so as to allot coal blocks arbitrarily".
The BJP leader alleged "17 billion tonnes of coal reserves valued Rs.50 lakh-crore were allocated to over 140 private companies free of cost during 2006-09."
"Neither the state exchequer nor the ultimate consumer derived benefit by way of cheap power. The only beneficiary seems to be the ruling party," Javadekar alleged.
He said the Supreme Court had, in earlier hearings, lambasted the government for "missing files relating to the scam, not doing due diligence in allotment of coal blocks and not maintaining minutes of the screening committee".
"The BJP reiterates its demand for the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh because the buck stops with him," Javadekar said.
Another BJP leader, Yashwant Sinha, said he was not surprised over Parakh's remarks and asked him to tell all details of how the coal files were disposed of.
Hitting back at BJP leaders, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said "the BJP is a self-propelled and self-firing automatic weapon which is unfortunately full of blanks."
"To expect anything else from BJP except irresponsibility would be expecting the sun to rise from the west rather than the east," 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", Tewari added.