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Tourism minister defends controversial letter to PM

August 31, 2012 15:50 IST

Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, who is embroiled in a controversy over allocation of a coal block in Jharkhand, was on Friday cornered over the letter he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recommending a company in which his brother is a director.

"This debate is sandwiched between a Delhi high court judgment and a bunch of lies being spread by the BJP. Parliament is not able to function due to their lies even as the whole country is watching," Sahai said at a press conference called by him to clear his name in the coal allocation controversy.

To a question, he ruled out resigning from the government and shot back, "For what".

The Bharatiya Janata Party has produced a letter written by Sahai to the prime minister, seeking his "personal intervention" for allocation of two coal blocks to SKS Ispat and Power Limited, in which his brother Sudhir K Sahai is a director.

Asked about the allegations, the minister maintained that his brother was on the board of the company as a "honourary director".

Sahai cited the court order to argue that his brother is neither a shareholder nor a director.

However, he accepted that he had written the letter to the prime minister seeking his intervention for coal block allocation. He insisted that he has done so for the development of the state.

"In the future also, I would make such recommendations for the development of my state (Jharkhand)," Sahai said.

Asked if it did not tantamount to misuse of his office as his brother was connected to the company, Sahai said, "I would not recommend any person on the street. We recommend somebody only after checking his antecedents".

He alleged that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh was aware of the allocation and said that Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had represented one of the parties as an advocate before the Delhi high court.

"Despite this, the BJP is levelling these allegations against me and disrupting Parliament to realise their dream of coming to power, which will never be fulfilled," Sahai said.

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