Saturday, April 27, 2013

Who has more to fear from CBI in Coalgate? Congress or BJP????

The CBI filed its 11th FIR yesterday, this one against a company called Pushp Steel and Mining Limited. Its interesting to note what exactly the CBI is probing, and who all have been ensnared in it so far. Its also interesting to investigate if the Government has anything really to fear from the CBI investigations.

Here’s the highlight. In all cases, the CBI’s investigations are against specific allocations made during 2006-9; and to find out if any misrepresentations were made by the winners of these mines. It has nothing to do with the policy of “administered allocations”. It has nothing to do with the CAG’s allegations of a loss of Rs 1.86 lac crores. The CBI investigation is about corruption at the local level; the role played by the screening committee members which included representatives from state governments. And all of those who made the all important “recommendations” to the screening committee. It’s about made wrongful declarations by the applicants – of the of networth, revenues, details of group companies etc etc. The CBI investigations hardly have the capacity to embarrass the government. The PM is not even remotely connected with the CBI investigations. Nor is Ashwani Kumar, the Minister of Law. One can argue whether the policy followed was right or wrong, and hold the PM responsible for that, but as far as CBI is concerned, the PM is not even on their radar.

Besides, the BJP has more to worry with the CBI investigations than the Congress. A look at the FIRs already filed by the CBI show that:

FIR against JLD Yavatmal Energy, JAS Infrastructure Capital, AMR Iron & Steel: In all these cases, the role of Congress MP Rajendra Darda, his son Devendra and their business associate Manoj Jayaswal is under the scanner. The charges against them are essentially those of cheating, wrongful declaration of networth, wrongly indicating IL&FS and IDFC were partners and failing to declare the mines they already had. The key figure here is Manoj Jayaswal, allegedly a rogue who has made money (again allegedly) by ripping off SAIL and the Indian Railways in the past. But Jayaswal is a colorful personality. He knows everyone in the Congress as well as the BJP. As per India Today: Manoj's proximity with political bigwigs is well known. At a wedding reception hosted by him, senior leaders, including BJP president Nitin Gadkari, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, BJP leader L. K. Advani and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah were among the guests. And look who made the recommendation in Jayaswal’s favor: As per Times Now: TIMES NOW has accessed an exclusive letter that puts BJP leader and Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda, in the dock for allegedly recommending a coal block allocation to one of mining baron Manoj Jayaswal's firms. Clearly, both the BJP and Congress politicians are involved in these companies.

FIR against Navabharat Coal Fields: CNN IBN reports “One of them is Nav Bharat Coal Fields Ltd of Chhattisgarh which was allotted the Madanpur North Block for a sponge iron plant. They later  sold 74 percent stake to Nagpur-based Solar Explosives Ltd. The promoter of the firm is VK Singh, whose wife Nina Singh contested elections on a BJP ticket”. Hmmm.

FIR against Vimmi (or is it Vini?) Iron and Steel Udyog: Again from CNN IBN: Vimmi Iron and Steel Udyog, which is linked to former chief minister Madhu Koda is also facing CBI allegations of getting two mines using Koda links. Now Madhu Koda is another interesting character. He has been associated with the BJP for long. In the first government of the state of Jharkhand in the year 2000, led by the BJP (CM: Babulal Marandi), Madhu Koda became the Minister of State, Rural Engineering Organisation (Ind. Charge). Later in 2003, Arjun Munda of the BJP took over as CM and in this government Koda became the minister of Panchayati Raj of Special Arrangement. Later he quit the BJP, but continued to extend his support to the BJP-led NDA. Later again in 2005, Arjun Munda of BJP-led NDA became the CM again, whom Koda supported and he was appointed as the Minister of Mining Geology and Cooperative. At this point, he switched sides and went over to the UPA: The UPA decided on him as consensus candidate to become Chief Minister and Koda became the next CM of Jharkhand on 14 Sept, 2006. The Congress supported him from outside. (all this sourced from Wikipedia). Its clear that for the bulk of his political career, he has been connected with the BJP.

FIR against SKS Ispat: Congress politician and minister Subodh Kant Sahay’s name is linked to this company.

FIR against Vikash Metals: While the promoters have suspect credentials, there doesn’t appear to be any political connections. The charge against them is about suppressing information regarding prior litigations with the IT and Excise departments. The Indian Express reports: In its FIR against Vikash Metal, the CBI alleged that "poor credentials" of the company which included the tax litigation were suppressed by its directors while applying for the coal block at Moira-Madhujore (North and South) in 2009 in West Bengal.

FIR against Grapes Industries: Cant get much info on this company or its promoters, but that indicates that there isn’t any political linkage. The TOI reports: The Managing Director of the company and unknown officials have been booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy and prevention of corruption act in the fresh FIRs, added sources.

FIR # 9,10: Cant get much details off the net. However, one of these companies appears to be NSL Powers & Infratech Limited, a Rajasthan based company. As per a CNN IBN report as carried in, the CBI is probing the role of Rajasthan government and company executives. The Rajasthan Government  was of course headed by BJP’s Vasundhara Raje Scindia until Dec 2008.

FIR against Pushp Steel & Mining – this is the latest FIR. It’s a Chhatisgarh based company headed by two brothers – Atul and Sanjay Jain. As per PTI: It was alleged in the FIR that the company got mining lease on the basis of recommendation from the Chhattisgarh government despite having no experience and lacking enough capital required for starting mining operations. Clearly, the role of the Chhatisgarh Government headed by the BJP’s Raman Singh (ruling since 2003) needs to be investigated.

The real truth is that in most of the 11 FIRs filed by the CBI so far, the role of BJP politicians has been central. There have been some Congress politicians named as well. Both parties stand equally exposed. Hardly the background for the BJP to mount the offensive against the Congress. And most importantly, the PM is not even in the radar of the CBI. The BJP better answer why it is demanding the PM’s resignation (for the 35th time!) and not letting Parliament function????

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