PM could have thrown me away, if I was wrong: Former Coal min

PM could have thrown me away, if I was wrong: Former Coal min

Former Coal Minister Dasari Narayana Rao, who has been questioned by CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha, today said the Prime Minister could have removed him from the post had he taken any wrong decision.

Rao also said that a final decision on any Coal Ministry related work was taken by cabinet ministers Shibu Soren and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held the portfolios at different times.

Rao and Soren have been also accused by former Coal Secretary P C Parakh in his recent book on 'coalgate' for scuttling reforms in the coal ministry.

"His allegation is when he proposed the bidding (for coal blocks allocation), I refused it. So I have not cooperated with it. Who am I not to cooperate? After that I was a Minister of State. There is a minister. There is a cabinet minister. Sometimes Cabinet Minister Shibu Soren is there. Sometimes Prime Minister is there," Rao said.

The former Rajya Sabha member said there were certain "practical problems" in introducing new things in the ministry.

"Whenever he wanted some new things to be introduced, there were certain problems, practical problems. So I had to point out those problems. I put it to the Prime Minister or to the Cabinet Minister. So if these problems were not right problems then immediately the minister could have taken a decision.

"Suppose if I am wrong, the Prime Minister could have throw me away. Why he did not do it?," he asked.

He said there are agencies who can question any decision made by him or the Prime Minister with regard to coal ministry. "Prime Minister's decision is final decision as per the government's order. If somebody wants to question it, there are the organisations or agencies.

"They have to take decision whether we have discussed these (practical problems on implementing Parakh's decision) things with the higher ups or not. Prime Minister is the final authority (for any decision)," said Rao. 

Rao said all allegations, including that of taking money for appointment of Chairman and Managing Directors (CMDs) of some public sector undertakings, made by Parakh in his book are false.

"He can write a book or he can make a film. No problem. There are some false allegations like some CMD asking me or my secretary or my assistant asking for money. That is the wrong allegation he had made. I have appointed so many chairman. But no chairman came to me," said Rao, who has been a film director and producer.

66-year-old Rao was Minister of State for Coal between 2004 to 2006 and in his second term from 2006 to 2008.

He was also questioned by the CBI late last month about the allocation of Talabira-II coal block to Hindalco despite the screening committee giving it to Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Neyveli Lignite Limited.

Parakh was on May 1 and 2 questioned by the CBI officials in connection with the case.69-year-old Parakh, who retired as Coal Secretary in December 2005, has been accused of abusing his official position to grant the coal block to Hindalco, an Aditya Birla Group company, in a CBI FIR.

CBI had last year registered a case against Parakh, Kumar Mangalam Birla and unnamed officials of Hindalco and the Coal Ministry. Birla and Hindalco have denied allegations of irregularities.
The agency has alleged that during 2005, these persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy and the then public servant (Parakh) abused his position and showed undue favour to the Odisha-based industry in allocation of Talabira II and Talabira III coal blocks.

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