Team Anna accuses PM, 14 UPA ministers of graft
Team Anna launched a frontal assault on the UPA government on May 26 and leveled serious corruption charges against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself and 14 of his top ministers, four of them from Maharashtra – Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Prafful Patel. Team Anna has prepared a 79-page report, largely based on reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and has written to the Prime Minister demanding that a Special Investigation Team be set up to probe the graft charges and has even named six judges for conducting the probe. “I have written to PM for a special investigative team to investigate into the charges of corruption into these ministers,” Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said at a press conference here. “The CAG report on the coal scam is the basis for alleging corruption; the Prime Minister was the Coal Minister between 2006 and 2009. Then coal blocks were given away at throw away prices. There were repeated efforts by the coal secretary to suggest that auctioning was the best way out,” Bhushan said.
Apart from the Prime Minister and the four union ministers named above, the other ministers targeted by Team Anna are: P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee, SM Krishna, Kamal Nath, Virbhadra Singh, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, GK Vasan, Farooq Abdullah and MK Alagiri. While Team Anna has accused the Prime Minister of corruption in the alleged coal scam, Pranab Mukherjee has been accused of corrupt practices in the Scorpene submarine deal during his stint as Defence Minister and Chidambaram has been accused of figuring in five corruption cases, including 2G scam and Vodafone clearance. It said Pranab Mukherjee was the Defence Minister when four per cent commission was received on the Scorpene submarine deal.
o Manmohan Singh’s interventions as in-charge of the coal ministry: 24 blocks were allocated in 2005, 53 in 2006, 52 in 2007, 24 in 2008 and 16 in 2009. Interestingly, only one coal block was allocated in 2010, and not even one in 2011.
o Under his watch a major coal allocation scam took place which allowed private firms to make windfall gains, as is clear from the facts that are now out in the public domain and the report of the CAG. The average allotment of coal blocks was 3-4 per year until a few years back. But this number shot up drastically to 22-24 during 2006-09 when Singh was in charge, raising questions about the manner in which these allotments were made.
o All the allotments were made without transparency, without protecting the interest of public exchequer, and without any competitive process.
o A comprehensive note on competitive bidding for the allocation of coal blocks was given by the Coal Secretary to the Minister of State for Coal on16 July 2004. It noted the substantial difference between the price of coal supplied by Coal India Limited (CIL) and the cost of coal produced through captive mining. This ensured a “windfall gain” to the party which was allocated a captive block.