New Delhi: The Congress Tuesday attacked BJP president Nitin Gadkari and demanded the resignation of his party colleague and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh over a CAG report pointing to lapses in awarding a coal exploration contract to a firm linked to Gadkari’s associate and MP Ajay Sancheti. The BJP dismissed the charges as baseless.
Congress general secretary B.K. Hariprasad said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president had lost the moral right to speak on corruption.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) “report states clearly that rules were bent and a Rs.1,052 crore loss was caused in allocation of coal block to a person close to BJP president. He has lost the moral right to speak on corruption”, Hariprasad said.
He said the CAG report stated that Maharashtra MP Sancheti’s firm SMS Infrastructure was favoured in terms of cost for the exploration contract given to it for Bhadgaon II Extension coal block in Chhattisgarh.
Hariprasad, who was accompanied by Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and leader Ravindra Chaobey, demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the allotment of coal blocks at “cheap rates” in the state.
Patel and Choubey said they had sought the permission of the governor for prosecution of the chief minister.
The BJP defended its party chief. “These allegations are baseless. We understand the worries of the Congress. They are involved in so many scams,” said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.
He said Gadkari was not president of the party when the rates for commercial mining of coal blocks in the state were accepted by the state-owned Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corp in 2008.
“Gadkari was the BJP Maharashtra unit president (then). He became BJP president one and a half years later in 2010,” Prasad said. Sancheti became an MP last month.
Prasad said the BJP differed with the conclusions drawn by the CAG.
The CAG report last week for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, said the CMDC accepted lower rates for commercial mining of coal blocks in the state which had led to a revenue loss.
Asked if Sancheti and Gadkari were business partners, Prasad replied in the negative.
Hariprasad demanded Raman Singh’s resignation, saying he was directly responsible for the revenue loss.