The Coalgate scam has taken a new twist. The opposition’s main argument demanding the PM’s resignation is that he was the minister in charge of coal in 2009 when the scam occurred. The government’s defence for the coal licence allotments up till now has been that the chief ministers were demanding the right to allot the licences for sake of industrial development. Federalism was respected to propitiate them. However in November 2007 the government had categorically informed parliament that there was no question of the government succumbing to the demands of state governments and the coal licenses could be allotted only through auction. In addition there is also on the files a note by the Prime Minister who was looking after the coal ministry that he favoured allotment of coal licenses only through auction.
Now a new note has surfaced as is reported by Times Now TV channel written by a joint secretary dated 2004 just after the UPA government assumed power. In that note the official had stressed the importance of auctioning coal licenses in order to avoid “windfall gains” to dubious private parties. The note further went on to state: "There are pressures of all kinds for allotment of blocks. This has made selection of an application in respect of a block difficult and vulnerable."
The question naturally arises. Who could have exerted such pressures on the newly elected UPA government? Surely no pressure exerted by any opposition leaders would have been considered at that time to be powerful?
For the last five years after the government had declared its policy to favour auctioning of the coal licenses it has failed to implement its policy. Now we learn that powerful pressures were being exerted to prevent the auctioning. Who could be so powerful that even the Prime Minister in charge of the coal portfolio could not implement the government’s declared policy to auction coal licenses?
Not for his sake but for the nation’s sake the PM must speak up. When threatened, even a worm turns. Surely the PM can outperform a worm!