New Delhi, April 14: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had little control over his cabinet colleagues leading to some questionable executive decisions regarding exploitation of coal reserves, according to yet another damning book that was released here Monday.
Former coal secretary P.C. Parakh, launching his book “Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths”, said the prime minister, who was later his immediate political boss and held the portfolio, did little to rein in the ministers responsible for coal allocations.
“Unfortunately, the PM couldn’t control the ministers,” Parakh said of ex-ministers Shibu Soren and Dasari Narayan Rao, who, according to the former bureaucrat, were opposed to putting up coal blocks for auction.
“In all fairness, the PM approved the auction of blocks which I myself had suggested, but he did little to implement and make it actionable,” added Parakh, who faces a probe into the allocations.
The charges come barely a couple of days after some explosive remarks on similar lines in another book by the prime minister’s former advisor Sanjaya Baru in which he said that even though Manmohan Singh was incorruptible, the actions of his cabinet colleagues were not only questionable but also that little action was taken to prevent them due to the power on such matters allegedly exercised by Congree president Sonia Gandhi.
Parakh, against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case for allegedly favouring Hindalco in getting a coal block in Odisha, has challenged the CBI to mention the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the conspiracy because he had taken the decision in the matter.
At the same time, to be fair to the prime minister, he said that at no time had the PMO made recommendations or exerted pressure in favour of any party.
In his book, Parakh, who retired as coal secretary in December 2005, said Manmohan Singh was heading a government in which he had little political authority, with ministers not implementing or even reversing his decisions.
Parakh gave the example of the decision to e-market coal, which was opposed by ministers with vested interest, and that could only be implemented after the prime minister himself assumed charge of the portfolio.
The Coalgate sandal erupted in 2012 after the national auditor questioned the government’s allocating coal blocks without auction which, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said, had brought windfall profits to certain companies and cost the exchequer a notional loss of Rs.186,000 crore.