The three much-anticipated CAG reports on coal, power and Delhi airport tabled in Parliament on Friday pinned the already beleaguered UPA government down for causing the exchequer loss of crores of rupees.
The view was hotly contested by the government which said the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament was the right forum for a correct assessment of the CAG report, but the Opposition went for the kill, and demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Among the three reports, what really got the principal Opposition party to train the guns directly at Manmohan Singh was the allocation of 142 coal blocks to private firms without competitive bidding, between 2005 and 2009, at a projected loss of `1.86 lakh core, which is more than the 2G scam.
According to the auditor, private companies obtained a massive gain of `1.86 lakh crore thanks to the low pricing of the coal blocks. If the plan to introduce competitive bidding had fructified, the public exchequer would have got part of the windfall.
The Coal Ministry was held by the PM during the period. The CAG report has several references to the PMO’s role in delaying legislation which would have ensured that the coal blocks were auctioned and not allocated for “captive’’ use. It also suggests that an executive order could have paved the way for auction.
Though MoS in PMO, V Narayanasamy, accused the CAG for crossing its mandate, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said this time the PM “can’t be shielded behind ministers like A Raja, as in the 2G scam — he was in charge’’.
Calling the “bungling’’ in the coal allocation as the “biggest ever scam in India’s history and each of the UPA’s scams is bigger than the other”, she said “the PM is responsible’’. EDIT: P8, more: P9