The monsoon session of the Parliament was marred by the coal block allocation scam and the Bharatiya Janta Party's (BJP) demand for the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resign. While the BJP held up the sessions of the Parliament, Singh held it responsible for the Parliament not being able to discuss other important issues that the country has been faced with.
Amidst all this, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been asked to conduct a probe into the matter and recent reports suggest that many top post holders in the government will be in the crosshairs of the intelligence agency which has been busy with quite a few scams lately. Maharashtra education minister Rajendra Darda might have been the first casuality of the scam but many others are sure to come in the line of fire. Here are a few who are in the thick of things.
Under Vinod Rai, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG ) has made a habit of hitting the government with uncomfortable questions – be it for the 2G spectrum scam or coal block allocation irregularities. Despite ministers and members of the Congress party questioning its findings, the CAG’s performance audit of coal block allocation from 2004 has put the government in the dock.
Sriprakash Jaiswal’s performance as coal minister is also under review, with questions being asked about the action taken against private companies that didn’t develop the coal blocks allocated to them. Also, with speculations that some of the allottees were fly-by-night operators out to make a quick buck, he is required to answer why the coal ministry waited so long to act against errant companies.
Considering that a bulk of the coal blocks was allocated to Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, their chief ministers – Raman Singh (in pic), Arjun Munda and Naveen Patnaik respectively – will have to give reasons why ineligible companies were recommended. More importantly, the state governments were supposed to check whether the companies were developing the coal blocks, as it was initially planned.
The Dardas – Rajendra, Vijay (in pic) and Vijay’s son Devendra – along with Manoj Jayaswal of Nagpur-based Abhijeet Group are under the scanner. The CBI, which has identified Devendra and Manoj as key operators, suspects that they were hoarding coal blocks. It also thinks that firms like Vini Iron and Navbharat Steel were just fly-by-night operators formed to get coal blocks.
With the CBI investigating the allocation of captive coal blocks to private companies between 2006 and 2009, a period when Manmohan Singh was heading the coal ministry, it is only natural for him to get caught in the crossfire. The BJP wants Singh out because he did not go for an auction, which would have fetched a better price for the natural resource.