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Advani dismisses PM, says his word on coal blocks 'totally unconvincing'

Agencies  New Delhi, September 02, 2012
First Published: 13:07 IST(2/9/2012) | Last Updated: 13:13 IST(2/9/2012)

BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's defence of the coal blocks allocation as "totally unconvincing".


In his latest blog, Advani pulled up Manmohan Singh for blaming chief ministers for his decision to allot coal blocks to private players without competitive bidding.

"The NDA has offered to resolve the deadlock if all the allotments made are cancelled and the process whereby the screening committee has decided these allocations is subjected to a judicial probe. The government is not yet prepared for this," Advani said in a blog post on Sunday.

The BJP had been unrelenting on the demand for the Prime Minister's resignation over which it has disrupted Parliament for two weeks.

Like Swaraj's comments on Saturday night on Twitter, Advani's blog also did not have any mention of the BJP's demand for Singh's resignation.

Strongly defending Chhatishgarh chief minister Raman Singh on the issue, he said his party colleague was "fully justified" in demanding a share in the revenues earned by the state as a result of competitive bidding and this cannot be construed as opposition to auction of coal blocks.

Advani said it was now "universally acknowledged" that allowing discretionary allocation of precious resources like spectrum, oil, gas and minerals gave ample scope to people harbouring corrupt and collateral intentions.

"The 2G spectrum scam has been a recent instance to prove this. The price of Rs. 1,658 crore fixed for an all-India licence in 2008 was not the market value then. No wonder, under adverse market conditions, in 2012 the government itself has fixed the base price for 2G auction at Rs. 14,000 crore," he said.

"If NDA's demand that the discretionary allotment of coal already made should be scrapped and the coal blocks be auctioned is accepted and implemented, the truth would surface as to what is really the fair price presently," he said.

Advani said he was "intrigued to find that Federalism ... was sought to be blamed by the Prime Minister in his totally unconvincing explanation" in Parliament on the coal block allocation issue.

"Repeated reference was also made to reservations supposed to have been voiced by some BJP chief ministers as if the decision to reject the law ministry's recommendation that there should be competitive bidding for the coal blocks was taken because of BJP chief ministers – more prominently Dr Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh," he said.

The BJP sought to draw a parallel with a situation during the Emergency when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had told German journalists that the decision to impose emergency was taken by chief ministers.

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