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Coal blocks: BJP hits out at Sonia for defending PM

April 23, 2013 20:08 IST

Accusing Congress chief Sonia Gandhi of "arrogance" after she dismissed its demand for the prime minister's resignation on coal blocks issue, BJP on Tuesday demanded that original CBI affidavit on status report and emails sent to the agency by PMO be made public.

While Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said he was not surprised at Gandhi's response to their demand, BJP deputy leader in the Upper House Ravi Shankar Prasad did not wish to comment on her "arrogant style".

The BJP response came within hours of the Congress president dismissing the opposition demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation over the coal block issue with a terse "Let them ask" remark.

Jaitley said that Gandhi may see Singh's alleged role in the coal allocation case as a "virtue" but BJP feels this is nothing less than a scam.

"I don't wish to comment upon the arrogant style of Madam Sonia Gandhi if she gave this remark. But at least in all humility, I would expect a reply from Madam Sonia Gandhi who has been Congress president that how is it and why is it that the JPC report by one of its own Congress leader Ram Niwas Mirdha is praised even today including its conduct, while that of its own Congress leader P C Chacko is open to so much of doubt, including its credentials," Prasad said.

Jaitley sought to know what was the need for the law minister to call the CBI director, Law officers and others to see the report and make changes in it.

Prasad found the government contention that Law Minister Ashwani Kumar was only making "grammatical corrections" as surprising and said, "This is the first direct evidence of government interference in CBI. This is the first time CBI required tutorship of law minister to correct its English."

"BJP demands that the original status report through affidavit of the CBI which was prepared before the meeting at the office of the law minister and what were grammatical errors supposedly corrected by the law minister in his capacity as the tutor of the CBI teaching English. This the nation must know," he said.

Prasad alleged that not only "is the law minister under pressure, even the PMO is under pressure" and demanded that it be made clear if some officials of PMO sent emails to the investigating agency for initiating changes in the CBI report.

"The BJP demands that the country be told as to whether from the PMO by certain officers, certain suggestions were given in the shape of an email to improve, correct or weaken the purport of the affidavit supposedly given by the CBI," he said, adding "the PMO is also involved in this whole episode".

Jaitley said, "The prime minister should also introspect where he is leading the country."

The opposition leader maintained that what changes were made in the report is immaterial but this definitely shows government interference in the CBI's functioning.

He demanded that the emails exchanged by the CBI and the PMO in regard to the coal scam issue be made public. He maintained that the government will have to concede that emails were exchanged as technology will prove there was interference.

Prasad said the JPC report is no longer a draft report and expressed its anguish at the way it was leaked.

Expressing concern at the "unwarranted" and "baseless" inferences and conclusions made against former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the JPC report on 2G, he said the BJP Parliamentary Party was "deeply disturbed and distressed" at the comments and would protest across the country.

"All BJP MPs were deeply distressed and anguished over the unwarranted inferences and conclusions patently baseless against Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is a design to bring a cloud over a distinguished record of Vajpayee government," he said.

On Chacko's remarks that Vajpayee has not been named in the report, Prasad said, "I hope the very eminent Chairman of JPC P C Chacko does not underestimate the basic intelligence of Indian people."

Attacking the Congress for the coal scam, he said, "It is out and out a Congress show with no stake of the allies of the UPA or the Congress" as the coal ministry was with the prime minister and other Congress ministers.

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