Cong suggests CM to resign over coal issue

Bhubaneswar: Advising Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to resign over the coal scandal and set an example, Opposition Congress on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe into coal block allocations made by the state`s BJD government.

"Will the Chief Minister resign on his own and set an example for others over the coal issue? We do not demand his resignation. But the chief minister should resign before the BJD demands resignation of Prime Minister," said Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan.

Justifying Congress suggestions of resignation to the Chief Minister, Harichandan said though the Centre attempted to introduce bidding process for coal block allocation in 2005, it was strongly opposed by Odisha government.

However, the Chief Minister is now claiming that the state government has been asking for auction-based system for allocation of mineral resources including coal, he said.

"The Chief Minister is telling untruths. Neither he nor his government has ever suggested bidding route for coal block allocation. Therefore, we suggest him to tender resignation and set an example for others," he said.

Harichandan said this in the assembly while initiating the debate on coal issue which could not be taken up yesterday due to uproar. He claimed that the state government had already admitted making recommendations in favour of private companies for coal block allocation.

Noting that Patnaik had written several letters to the Prime Minister and Union Coal Minister recommending names of private companies for coal blocks, the Congress Chief Whip alleged that the state government had been pushing cases of Independent Power Producers (IPPs). .

The Congress leader ridiculed Patnaik`s statement that the CAG report castigated the Central Government and not states like Odisha.

"You (CM) recommend names of private companies on one hand and claim to be favouring bidding process," he said, adding the state government should issue notification for CBI probe into coal block allotment in state on its own to prove it is transparent.

The Congress leader also criticised state government`s claim that it recommended names of private companies for coal block allocation to provide jobs for local youths and increasing revenue for the state.

Harichandan read out a government statement claiming that the 29 IPPs have given jobs to very small number of people in the state.