Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday asked the BJP to prove allegations against him or tender an apology for misleading the nation over the coal scam.
Jaiswal told mediapersons in Lucknow that contrary to the BJP's allegations, no coal blocks were allocated during his tenure as coal minister. As union minister of state for home too he had not written any letters recommending coal block allocations to any firm, he said.
The minister said some letters of allotment may have been issued by some under secretary-level officer of the coal ministry during the term of UPA-1 from 2004-2009 but no fresh blocks were allocated since the UPA-2 government was formed.
Asked whether he had any role as an arbitrator in a dispute relating to Manoj Jaiswal, whose name has figured in the coal scam, the minister said as a member of the Jaiswal community all Jaiswals are his relatives and may be willing to appoint him as arbitrator.
But he said he had not signed any arbitration document and there was no proof of his role in any arbitration.
In New Delhi, the Congress dared the BJP to a public debate on the coal block allocations but left party leaders facing allegations of irregularities to fend for themselves.
"We are ready to discuss the issue in public forums. Let the BJP come forward if it has the confidence. People will decide whose faces are blackened with coal," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Asked about controversies involving party MPs Naveen Jindal, Vijay Darda and former minister Santosh Bagrodia over the allocations, he said, "If there is a question related to anyone's business, it can be better answered by the person concerned himself."