Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday labelled former coal secretary PC Parakh as 'Sheikh Chilli,' or daydreamer, for his comments that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was equally responsible for alleged irregularities in the allocation of a coal block to Hindalco.
Jaiswal backed the statement made by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), which said Singh took the decision based on the merits of the case.
"Sheikh chilliyon ke dwara diye gaye kisi bayan par koi comment hum nahi karna chahte (I do not want to comment on statements given by daydreamers)," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Jaiswal was asked to comment on statements made by Parakh on the allocation of Talabira-II coal block to Aditya Birla Group firm Hindalco in 2005.
The CBI has named Parakh and Hindalco chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in its FIR on alleged irregularities in the allocation, triggering an outrage in the industry.
In response to the FIR, Parakh had said the Prime Minister, who held the coal portfolio when the allocation was made, was equally responsible for any irregularity.
Parakh could not be immediately reached for comments.
Defending the Prime Minister, Jaiswal said he fully agreed with the statement issued by the PMO on October 19 that the allocation was made following due process of law and the merits of the case.
The decision was primarily based on a strong recommendation for such allocation by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
"I cent per cent agree with the statement issued by the PMO," he said.
The minister, however, refused to comment on the CBI filing the FIR in which Birla was named, saying the inquiry was "being monitored by the Supreme Court."
Jaiswal also said steps that impact investor sentiment should not be taken and no one should issue statements that affect the country's industrialisation or any particular category of people.
"The coal ministry is of a view that we should not do anything which affects investment atmosphere of the nation," he said when asked if the naming of India's third most prominent industrialist would dampen investment climate.
After being named in the CBI FIR, Parakh last week said that if he is guilty of making a recommendation to allocate the block to Hindalco, the Prime Minister was an equal "conspirator" in the case.
"There is KM Birla who made the representation, he is one conspirator. I, who examined the case and made a recommendation, I can be another conspirator and the Prime Minister, who as the coal minister, took the final decision, is the third conspirator," he had said on October 16.
Asked whether the coal ministry is cooperating with the CBI on the missing files issue as some documents are still untraceable, Jaiswal said, "The ministry is extending its full support in the investigation. Almost all the documents/files have been handed over."