Coalgate: Gurudas Dasgupta takes on PMO, says 'Govt. in grip of corporates'

New Delhi, Oct 21 : Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Gurudas Dasgupta on Monday said crime and criminality will run riot in the country and corruption will continue if investigating agencies have no independence.

Dasgupta, who was responding to media reports of the CBI mulling the option of closing the Coalgate case against Kumar Mangalam Birla, said the closure of case against Birla will set a dangerous precedent.

"I do not like to comment on the decision of the CBI to give a chargesheet. But the point is, when an institution like CBI gives a chargesheet, and when the government mounts its offensive, and after that it is withdrawn, then it is shameful not only for CBI, it is shameful for the government, because, it shows how outrageously it is trying to influence the investigation," said Dasgupta.

"And, if there is no independence of the investigating agencies, then crime and criminality will run riot in the country and corruption cannot be changed," he added.

Dasgupta was also critical of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) strong defence of the allocation of the Talabira II coal block to Hindalco.

"On one side there is talk of independence of the CBI, on the other hand, the PMO (defending). The PMO has become a super government. During Nehru's time, there were only three men in the Prime Minister's Office. Now, there is an entire system, it is a super Cabinet," said Dasgupta.

"It has extraordinary powers. It takes a stand on every issue and a decision of every ministry. This is also interfering with the normal functioning of the government and appears to be the growth and trend of authoritarianism within the system," he added.

The CPI (M) leaders also criticized the UPA Ministers for raising their concerns following the case against Birla in the coal scam case, and said the government is now in the grip of the corporates.

"Whether it is right or wrong, if the name of a corporate is there in the FIR; the government feels alarmed and ministers who mostly are benefitted by the corporates react like this," he added.

The PMO has defended the coal block allocation made to Hindalco terming it as entirely appropriate.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the PMO said the decision was based on the merits of the case placed before him by the coal ministry with a strong recommendation of the Odisha Government.

Tracing the procedures followed before the allocation was made, it said the Prime Minister was satisfied over the final decision taken in the case.

The statement said the allocation is subjected to an on going investigation and no impediment is placed before the CBI to continue the investigation and seek fresh information, which may have a bearing in the case.

The statement said the investigation on this and other matters must take their normal course under the law.

The CBI has lodged an FIR against Birla and former Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh as part of its ongoing probe in the coal blocks allocation case.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had earlier come out in support of Birla, and urged the government agencies to not play to the gallery and create an environment of sensation and shock.

The Commerce and Industry Minister's support for Birla came a day after the CBI filed an FIR against him in the coal blocks allotment scandal.

The BJP has held the Prime Minister responsible and demanded his resignation for an estimated loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores to the national exchequer by the CAG in connection with the coal block allocation.

The CAG report does not indict the Prime Minister or his office, but the BJP is emphasizing that the Prime Minister held direct charge of the coal ministry for the years under scrutiny.

--ANI (Posted on 21-10-2013)

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