As Parliament was disrupted for the 12th successive day on Thursday over allocation of coal blocks, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought an answer from the government as to why there was no probe ordered in the money trail in the faulty allotments.
BJP leader Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said that according to market sources Rs 50-Rs 100 per tonne were paid as kickbacks by the allottees.
"They want us to believe that 17 billion tonnes of coal was given away for free. Market sources say the rate (kickbacks) taken was Rs 50 to Rs 100 per tonne. Is the government ready for a judiciary-monitored independent probe in the money trail," Javadekar asked.
He also targeted rural development minister Jairam Ramesh who earlier asked the BJP to "look within" for answers on coal blocks allocation.
"Firstly, Jairam Ramesh should answer one question - who signed on the orders for allotment of coal blocks," Javadekar said.
"Secondly, they (Congress) always say that BJP chief ministers wrote letters... Congress chief ministers also opposed the new policy (for auctioning of coal blocks). They are not showing those letters," he said.
Later, at a press conference, Javadekar also posed seven questions to the government and the Congress, saying the nation wanted to know the answers for these.
"The Congress is neck deep involved in the coalgate. They have no answers to the questions being asked by the country. They are defending the indefensible," he said.
Attacking the Congress, the BJP leader said their strategy was to first deny the existence of any scam and at a later state, to destroy the credibility of constitutional institutions, this time the Comptroller and Auditor General, which brings out their corruption.
"After failing in both these ruses, they resort to diversionary tactics by bring in another issue in Parliament to run away from the core issue of corruption," he said.
Javadekar said the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in charge of the coal ministry, and Congress chief ministers had opposed auctioning, despite the Central government having formulated a policy to go in for competitive bidding.
"But the Congress is releasing letters of BJP chief ministers, in parts and not the whole letter. The BJP CMs had only sought revenue sharing and coal supplies for their state's power generations after auctioning of the coal blocks," he said.
On Jairam Ramesh naming BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and his aide Ajay Sancheti, a party MP, as having bagged a coal block in Chhattisgarh in 2008, Javadekar said he had won a competitive bidding for a minor stake in a state-controlled mine for carrying out mining operations under which revenue will be shared by the company and the state government.
Javadekar also noted that the CBI filed cases against five firms and their executives on the orders of the Central Vigilance Commission to which the BJP had written complains on the coal blocks allocation.
"The government cannot take credit for these CBI cases or the raids," he added.
The BJP has been demanding Manmohan Singh's resignation over the coal issue, as he was holding the portfolio of coal minister through most of the time when allocations were made.
The party has also sought cancellation of allotment of blocks and a fair probe in the alleged scam.
Kejriwal claims coal raids staged
Activist Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday claimed that the recent CBI raids in companies related to coal block allocation were staged, a charge denied by Congress.
Kejriwal tweeted, "received a mail from an officer in one of the raided companies. They were informed two days in advance about raids and were asked to remove all materials.
"CBI raids on coal companies were an eyewash?"
The CBI has filed cases against five companies and charged a number of officials with criminal conspiracy, cheating and intention to commit a crime and had conducted raids.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari denied the allegations, terming it as "extremely irresponsible".
"If at all the person who has articulated such an argument has evidence, I think it is incumbent upon him to put it in the public domain.
"If he has just shot from the hip, then it is appropriate that the statement should be withdrawn, because it neither serves the cause of public discourse, nor the cause of responsibility, to make such irresponsible utterances," he said.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)