According to CBI sources the Coalgate files that went mysteriously missing have resurfaced and are in possession of the agency. CBI sleuths claim that government officials nervous about getting involved in any conspiracy case, given the current political atmosphere, decided to cooperate and made the files available to CBI.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Coal Minister at that time had initially favoured the allotment of coal licenses through auction. However the government failed to implement this policy for many years. This writer drew attention to a note by a joint secretary of the government issued in 2004 which said: “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 quite naturally was posed: “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.”
The mystery deepened after the CBI publicly complained that certain key files related to the Coalgate probe were missing to impede investigation. It was at that point of time that London’s Daily Mail on its website published a report on Coalgate relating to one of the accused, Mr. Manoj Jayaswal who is Chairman and Managing Director of the Abhijeet Group which was allotted coal licenses and was charged with corrupt practice by the CBI. The Daily Mail website also published a photograph which it had lifted from the Abhijeet Group’s own website.
The photograph displayed a beaming Mrs. Sonia Gandhi accepting a bouquet from Mr. Jayaswal while another Coalgate accused, Congress MP Mr. Vijay Darda, stood alongside. Mrs. Gandhi’s Political Secretary Mr. Ahmed Patel was also in the photograph which was taken in the private study of Mrs. Gandhi’s residence at 10 Jan Path. Readers might recall that the photograph was reproduced in these columns.
Given the background it was naturally asked what the circumstances were that led to such close bonhomie displayed between the Congress President and a Coalgate accused. Fear was expressed that Mrs. Gandhi’s name may have been misused.
Such fears became further justified when it was learnt that one of the missing key files relating to Coalgate included the letter of recommendation by Mr. Darda addressed to the Prime Minister urging allotment of a coal block to Mr. Jayaswal’s firm. It now transpires that the CBI has obtained that particular file thanks to nervous officials worried about their own reputations. The CBI is expected to file chargesheets by December end. But the government should immediately publicize the contents of Mr. Darda’s letter of recommendation to end unhealthy, and possibly unwarranted, speculation. It is time to clear the mystery.