The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday accused the government of not cooperating with the Central Bureau of Investigation in the coal scam by dilly-dallying on sharing relevant files with the probe agency and demanded that the computers in the Prime Minister’s Office, which store such information, should be seized for "data mining".
"The Congress government stands thoroughly exposed for its non-cooperation in the probe. The CBI is still struggling to get hold of the crucial documents and files required from the coal ministry to take the investigation forward," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said. He alleged the government has been giving excuses that the files are missing, have lost or are untraceable, while files of the Maharashtra government have been "destroyed" in the infamous fire in the Mantralaya building.
"The actual way forward for the CBI was to seize the related computers and dig out the data from there. The BJP expects that the Supreme Court will order for such data mining," Javadekar said.
The Supreme Court rapping the government on the coal scam is seen by the BJP as a vindication of the opposition's charge that the United Progressive Alliance is indulging in a massive cover-up of the probe. The party said due to this the government is putting hurdles in the probe being monitored by the apex court.
The main opposition alleged there is an "obnoxious attempt" to protect the prime minister, who held the coal portfolio during the period when anomalies in block allocations were allegedly done. "The BJP demands that in view of what has been exposed till today, the PM must own responsibility and resign forthwith and the coal block allocations should be cancelled," Javadekar said.
The apex court had on Wednesday said the CBI does not require sanctions for probe and prosecution as the power of superintendence lies with the chief vigilance commission, which had ordered the probe in the coal scam.
The BJP said the CBI has filed a "shameless" affidavit in the coal scam case. "The twin requests of the CBI to share the probe status report with the executive and allowing transfer of some officers dealing with the coal scam probe is a willful and mischievous attempt of the government to destroy the probe," Javadekar said. The party alleged the attempts and interventions till date of the government are solely to save Manmohan Singh, as government fears that ultimately the probe will reach the doors of the PM.
Recalling early cases where the government was reportedly interfering in the functioning of the CBI in the probe, the BJP alleged the then law minister Ashwani Kumar along with officials of the PMO and the coal ministry had tried to manipulate the agency's status report before its submission in the Supreme Court. The government had also initially refused to grant permission to the CBI to question former coal secretary H C Gupta. "The CBI was also forced to clarify that no present PMO officials are questioned," Javadekar claimed.
The party also charged that the CBI was restricted from interrogating "far less arresting" former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao and Congress MP Naveen Jindal in the issue. The BJP demanded that the CBI should be allowed to go after the money trail to find out the bribe takers.
Taking potshots at the CBI, Javadekar said the agency was forced to accept publicly that it works under government control and does not wish for autonomy leading to the Supreme Court observation that it is a "caged parrot". As many as 556 coal blocks have been reviewed by the inter-ministerial group, while 40 blocks were de-allocated. "The scam is now in the open. The government's brazen attempts and massive cover up point out to the involvement of big leaders of the ruling establishment. The pertinent and most important point is that each and every allocation was sanctioned personally by the Prime Minister as he was then the coal minister as well," Javadekar alleged.