By Prashant Pandey
15 questions for the BJP to answer on coal….or risk getting exposed
A lot has been said by the BJP. All of it in media and none in Parliament. Given the nature of the TV medium, it becomes difficult to challenge in detail what a politician says. So here’s a compendium of questions that the BJP needs to answer:
1) Precisely what did the NDA do during its six years tenure on coal allocations? Was it the one that thought of or actually introduced auctions of coal blocks? Or did it also allocate mines using the same flawed screening committee process that it now accuses the Congress of doing?
2) In the amendments to the CMNA that the NDA government brought out in 2000, did it or did it not want to extend the benefits of “no auctions” to an even larger number of private companies? Is it not true that these companies could have simply “traded” in coal, which they got for free, rather than take up some onerous responsibility like generating and supplying power at highly reduced rates?
3) The BJD has made an argument that the UPA intentionally delayed auctions because the commodity price boom started around 2004-5. In reality, it started twenty years back, and is now entering a cycle of slowdown. Does the BJP agree with the BJD’s allegation?
4) The Shiromani Akali Dal’s spokesperson made a claim that the share prices of companies that benefitted from the free coal shot up dramatically after allocation. Till date, I have not been able to see this. I have analyzed all companies that are listed and that are named in the CAG report and since 2003, I have not found any exceptional share price movement. Does the BJP believe this theory?
5) What is the BJP’s stand on federalism? The last we heard was during the NCTC discussions when the BJP wanted the Center to “listen” to the state governments. Not listening would mean that the Center did not believe in federalism. Does the BJP stand by this position? Because if it does, then why is it complaining that the Center actually listened to the voices of the states during coal allocations between 2005-9?
6) Does the BJP believe in CAG? Then will it please accept culpability for the various CAG reports that have indicted its state governments please? Will they also please sack their CMs and lead by example?
7) Does the BJP believe that passing legislation is easy? If so, how come it was unable to pass its own amendments of CMNA in the year 2000? The answer of course is that the Left parties opposed the amendments. Why? Because the BJP wanted to extend the policy of free coal to all private companies and for the Left, anything private is anathema.
8) Does the BJP believe that a delay in passing legislation is tantamount to corruption? Because then there are tens of bills delayed by 1-10 years in Parliament. Why not accuse the Congress of corruption in all of them?
9) Does the BJP agree that by disrupting Parliament, it is itself delaying the passage of some 90 odd bills that are reportedly stuck? Will these delays also be tantamount to corruption?
10) The BJP has accused the Congress of “mota maal” as Sushma Swaraj said. Prakash Javdekar then put some bizarre calculation out – saying the Congress made Rs 50 per tonne of coal adding up to some Rs 50000 crores or something. Do both these esteemed politicians have some trail of cash flows? Who paid the Congress? If it is the private companies, does the BJP believe that companies (or their promoters) have so much cash lying idle? Because clearly the money must have been paid at the time of allocation in a “lump sum” manner….not on a pay-as-you-mine basis since coal mining has not even started.
11) Does the BJP by reverse logic also accept that it made a similar “mota maal” in Karnataka in the same mining business? And if it did, then where is all the money lying? Have they paid taxes (obviously not!)? And have they siphoned all of it off abroad? Will they please call up Ramdev on this subject?!
12) Since most states where the mines were located happened to be in the hold of opposition parties including the BJP, does it accept that all state governments also made “mota maal” in the entire process of allocation and mining? I say this because its CM in MP has been spotted lobbying for a particular private party.
13) Is it true that the BJP has demanded the resignation of the PM some 30 times before this one?
14) Does the BJP believe in Parliament at all? Because if it does, then merely the belief that the Congress did nothing in the past cases (assuming that’s true) is no excuse for disrupting Parliament. If it takes this disruptive stance, then why even have the balance of the 15th Lok Sabha term left? In fact, in the next Lok Sabha, some other opposition party could take this stand. We might as well do away with the Parliamentary system of governance. In fact, is it not true that Modi – its prime PM candidate – is extremely autocratic in his style of functioning? Is this what we should expect if the BJP comes to power?
15) And lastly, has the BJP thought of what the public thinks of its image? As per an NDTV poll put out last night, if 54% people think the Congress is corrupt, 46% believe the BJP is corrupt as well. While in the past Anna was targeting only the Congress. Now he also has realized that the BJP is as corrupt. If Kejriwal was “gheraoing” only Congress leaders earlier, he is gheraoing Gadkari as well these days.
The real truth is that the BJP has no grounds to stand on. The CAG should have merely pointed out its views on the policy of free allocations. Since its report came out after the government had already enacted coal auctions, it should have actually complimented the government for its action. Policies change all the time….the change of a policy for the better does not make the previous decisions wrong and the political party that took them corrupt. I understand the BJP’s desperation to grab power…..but even so, should it not be a little mindful of public perception?
We await the BJP response!!