BHUBANESWAR: After the CBI questioning former prime minister Manmohan Singh over Talabira-II coal block allocation to Hindalco, the BJP has demanded that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should also be interrogated by the Central agency.
“The Chief Minister comes under the purview of CBI investigation as he had recommended to the Prime Minister’s Office the allotment of Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco,” State BJP president K V Singhdeo said.
Singhdeo had made similar demand after the special court directed the CBI to record statements of the former prime minister in December last year.
The CBI has already questioned chairman of Aditya Birla Group Kumar Mangalam Birla in the case. Now it has questioned the former prime minister. Questioning Naveen Patnaik has become inevitable. The investigation cannot be completed without questioning the Chief Minister, said BJP spokesperson Suresh Pujari.
Defending the action of Naveen, BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said the Chief Minister did nothing wrong by recommending allocation of natural resources, including coal, keeping the best interest of the State in mind.
If one goes by the logic of the BJP, then all chief ministers will be interrogated by the CBI for making recommendations to the Centre, Deb said.
Deb said the CBI did not question the former prime minister on its own but on the directive of the special court. If the court directs, the Central agency will also question the chief ministers for their recommendations to allocate coal blocks, he added.
He shifted the onus to the Centre saying if anybody is responsible for any irregularity, it is the screening committee, the Coal Ministry and the office of the Prime Minister.
The Chief Minister or the State Government has nothing to do with the allocation of coal block, he added.
The Pradesh Congress, which is also demanding the interrogation of the Chief Minister, clarified that the former prime minister was not interrogated. The CBI sought some information from Singh since he was in the know of things as the prime minister, said Leader of Opposition Narsingh Mishra.
Besides, Singh had expressed his willingness to be questioned by the CBI when he was the prime minister, Mishra added.