Ex-PM was under pressure to avoid coal block auctions: Ahir

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Hansraj Gangaram Ahir

Fertiliser Minister, who blew the lid off the scam, says his stand proved correct

Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hansraj Ahir, who blew the lid off ‘coalgate’, believes that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was under pressure from the Congress leadership to avoid auctions of the coal blocks.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Ahir said Singh may not have done anything wrong, but he did not do anything to prevent the “loot of precious natural resources” such as coal and spectrum.

The Minister said that he feels proud that the country’s legal system is working effectively. Welcoming the summons issued by a CBI court to the former Prime Minister, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and four others in the multi-crore coal scam case, Ahir said it proves that everyone is equal before the courts.

‘Right step’

Terming the summons as a “right step”, Ahir said he respects Singh’s stature of a clean politician.

“He should have turned down the directions from his party’s bosses,” Ahir said, adding that Singh can prove his innocence at the courts.

He said his stand was vindicated when the Comptroller & Auditor General of India said the allocation resulted in a loss of ₹1.86-lakh crore to the exchequer. Ahir’s complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission in May, 2009 had led to a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the issue.

Before approaching the CVC, Ahir had sent more than a dozen letters to the then prime minister (Singh) and senior cabinet ministers against the way coal blocks were being distributed. As a member of the committee on coal and mines, Ahir used all forums available to raise voice against the allocations.

“My stand was proved right (again) when the Supreme Court ordered de-allocation and directed for auctions of the blocks,” Ahir said.

Proper auctioning

Taking pride in the auctions undertaken by the NDA Government following the Supreme Court directive, he said “The world was surprised to see the revenue the country got through proper auctioning. It proves that the court has done nothing wrong by issuing summons to these persons.”

Published on March 11, 2015

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