The national media is buzzing with reports that Coal Minister Mr. Shriprakash Jaiswal is about to be dropped. The excitement arose after a fresh document surfaced.
A letter written by Coalgate accused Mr. Manoj Jayaswal, owner of the Abhijeet Group, to his father Mr. Basant Lal Shaw who heads the family owned AMR Iron and Steel Company has surfaced. The letter is related to a family disagreement regarding distribution of shares among family members related to a coal block allotment made to AMR in Maharashtra in 2009.
The family decided that 26 per cent shares in AMR would be transferred to the Lokmat newspaper group owned by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mr. Vijay Darda who is the Chairman of the newspaper. Mr. Darda was rewarded because Lokmat played a crucial role in helping AMR get the allocation. Mr. Darda along with Mr. Manoj Jayaswal is a co-accused in the FIR filed by the CBI on Coalgate. From the letter it emerges that the family appointed the present Coal Minister Mr. Shriprakash Jaiswal as the arbiter to resolve all family disagreements regarding the settlement. Part of the letter reads:
"As per the understanding, 26 per cent of the shares of AMR are to be allocated free of cost to the Lokmat group. The rights of the balance 14 per cent needs to be decided by Shri Shriprakashji... AMR has been allotted coal blocks because of efforts of Lokmat Group. The commitment should be honoured."
Therefore it becomes clear from the letter that the fate of the 14% free shares allotted by the company was left to the sole discretion of the current Coal Minister. Despite the damaging revelation about Mr. Jaiswal’s involvement in the Coal deal the Minister is remarkably unfazed and oozing with confidence. He has made clear that there is no question about his resignation because he has done nothing wrong. The media may be right of course and he may soon be sacked. He could be simply whistling in the dark. Or he could be right and he may not be removed. It is puzzling that neither the media ferreted out nor did the Minister volunteer how he distributed the 14% shares left to his discretion.
Perhaps we may learn about the fate of the 14% shares only after the Minister is sacked. Or perhaps we may never know and the Minister may not be sacked at all. Clearly the Minister’s confidence emanates from a sense that his senior leaders will not criticize his actions. After all, both Mr. Manoj Jayaswal and Mr. Vijay Darda accompanied by Mr. Ahmed Patel had accessed Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. That photograph was leaked by the Abhijeet Group owned by Mr. Manoj Jayaswal. The letter written to his father in possession of the media could also have been leaked only by the Abhijeet Group. The fate of Mr. Manoj Jayaswal and of Coal Minister Mr. Shriprakash Jaiswal will be watched with interest.
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