CBI reply on coal block shows government meddling, says BJP

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The CBI’s revelation that it had shared the coal scam report with the law minister and an official of the PMO proved the government’s interference with the agency’s work, the BJP asserted Friday and called on the prime minister to explain.

“Government has really been caught with its pants down,” said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

“The full truth has still to come out. What are the changes that were made in the report? What was the level of interference of law ministry or Prime Minister’s Office?” Jaitley said while talking to news channel NDTV.

The BJP leader said the CBI affidavit filed with the apex court concealed more than it revealed, and the situation “has gone beyond” Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.

“This has gone well beyond the law minister now. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) must explain in what context was a PMO official shown the draft of the coal report. The affidavit has smashed claims of no interference by government. The buck stops with the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.

“The affidavit gives some information and conceals the rest. Were the PMO officials there in the law minister’s meeting or were they separately shown the report? Was there any communication between PMO and CBI on this status report?”

He said the coal scam draft report must be made public so that it can be compared with final report.

“All this must come out because it goes to the root of the matter. It gives a view in the political interference in the CBI,” Jaitley said.

The BJP has been demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the coal scam report, and the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

This demand grew louder after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Supreme Court that it shared its March 8 status report on investigations into coal blocks allocation with the law minister.

“It is a very serious issue. The CBI should now tell us and the country what the original affidavit was and what changes were made by the law ministry or PMO,” demanded BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Prasad alleged that the government’s interference in the federal investigation agency’s work was well known.

“The law minister misused his office to influence the CBI investigation to save the prime minister. BJP has already demanded resignation of the prime minister and the law minister, and we will continue to do so,” he said.

Senior party leader Jaswant Singh echoed his party’s demand for prime minister’s resignation.

“I haven’t read the report but one thing is clear that the Prime Minister’s Office was involved in it. Whatever applies to the law minister applies to the PM as well. The government should resign. If the prime minister goes, the government goes,” Jaswant Singh said.

The affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court by the CBI Friday revealed that “besides the political executive, it (March 8 status report) was also shared with one joint secretary-level officer each of the Prime Minister’s Office, and ministry of coal, as desired by them”.

However, CBI director Ranjit Sinha also told the court that the agency’s status report of April 26 has been personally vetted by him, and not shared with anyone, including the political executive.

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