Minister defends letter to PM on coalgate

Sahai favoured a firm in allocation, says BJP

Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai found himself in a spot on Friday after opposition parties demanded his resignation over his alleged role in the “irregular” allocation of a coal block.

Sahay came under attack following the exposure of a letter to the Prime Minister in which he had allegedly recommended the allocation of a coal block to SKS Ispat, a company in Jharkhand, in which his brother is a director.

In addition to the pressure from the opposition parties, Sahay seemed to be isolated in the issue as Congress leaders and the Centre did not come to his rescue.

Sources said that to defend himself, the minister wanted to hold a press conference in the PIB conference hall. However, the mandarins in the government are said to have informed him not to hold the meet on government premises as it was a “personal” case.

The officials in the PIB refused to comment on this issue.

At the press meet he had called at the Constitution Club, Sahay seemed to be left alone. Nevertheless, he argued that the source of the row was a mere allegation made by people with vested interests and aimed at tarnishing his public image.

Though Sahay found it hard to defend his letter to the Prime Minister, he refused to resign. Instead, he took on his “detractors”.

“This debate is sandwiched between a Delhi High Court judgment and a bunch of lies being spread by the BJP. Parliament is not able to function due to their lies even as the whole country is watching,” he said.

It was the BJP which had produced Sahay’s letter to the Prime Minister in which the latter’s “personal intervention” was sought to ensure that two coal blocks were allocated to SKS Ispat and Power Limited.

The minister argued that his brother is only an “honorary director” in the company and not a decision-making authority.

However, he accepted that he had written the letter to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention in the matter but insisted that he has done so for development of the state.
Asked if it did not tantamount to misuse of office, Sahay said: “I would not recommend any person on the street. We recommend somebody only after checking his
antecedents.”

He alleged that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh was aware of the allocation.

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