Prime Edition

Team Anna calls PM corrupt

The activists have accused 14 of the PM’s Cabinet colleagues of corruption.

OUR CORRESPONDENT  New Delhi | 27th May 2012

eam Anna has launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with 14 of his Cabinet colleagues, over various charges of corruption.

The ministers are Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, Science and Technology Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Virbhadra Singh, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan, Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Fertiliser and Chemical Minister M. Alagiri and Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde.

The PM has been accused of watching over the coal scam. "The Comptroller and Auditor General 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 throwaway prices," said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, at a press conference in New Delhi.

Team Anna has also targeted other politicians like Lalu Prasad Yadav, J. Jayalalithaa, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. Bhushan also named six judges and suggested the PM pick out any three of them to lead the SIT investigations.

Team Anna would start an agitation from 25 July if its demands are ignored.

Following are some of the charges against some of the ministers:

• Dr Manmohan Singh: The report cite the CAG report to show average allotment of coal blocks shot up to 22-24 from the earlier number of 3-4 blocks per annum during November 2006 to May 2009 when the coal ministry portfolio was with the PM. The PMO also ignored the coal secretary's recommendation to introduce competitive bidding for coal blocks.

• Pranab Mukherjee: The allegation pertains to his tenure as Defence Minister in 2006 when the Scorpene submarine deal was alleged to have been fixed with the help of middlemen who negotiated for a substantial commission for those in the government and the ruling party, Congress. Mukherjee sought to downplay the issue by falsely stating that the leaked information was only of commercial nature, the report alleges, and failed to order proper investigations.

• P. Chidambaram: The allegations pertain to his tenure as Finance Minister between May 2004 and November 2004 and as Home Minister since December 2008. His involvement is cited in five different matters: pricing of 2G spectrum; allowing sale of equity by Swan and Unitech; FIPB approval of Hutch-Vodafone; FIPB approval of Aircel-Maxis; and unwarranted attempts to withdraw prosecution against a former client, Delhi hotelier S.P. Gupta, among others.

• Sharad Pawar: Accused of having close ties with some of the most dangerous criminals of the country. In 2002 and 2003, Mr Sudhakar Rao, then minister in Maharashtra, alleged that Pawar asked him to be lenient against gangster Papu Kalani, a criminal-turned politician. He was also accused of having relations with Dawood Ibrahim in the past. Currently he is accused of having ties with 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa.

• S.M. Krishna: The Karnataka government under Krishna as CM, in its orders dated 15.03.2003 de-reserved for private mining an area of 11,620 sq km in the state, meant for state exploitation and mining and notified the surrender of an area of 6,832.48 hectares of prime iron ore land respectively, which has paved way for distribution of public assets to select private entities. The entire exercise was undertaken in a matter to benefit only selected people.

• Praful Patel: As Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel went in for huge fleet expansion programme of Air India and Indian Airlines. Purchase orders for 111 aircraft were given. This unnecessary expansion was made without any proper study and transparency. The purchase orders cost Rs 67,000 crore. Loans were taken from US and Indian banks. More and more aircraft were taken on lease making the need for purchase redundant.

• Salman Khurshid: Khurshid is alleged to have defended the telecom company "Loop", has been termed as a front company of Essar by CBI. Essar allegedly created "Loop" as a front company in order to seek two licenses, in contravention of the law. The companies are being investigated as part of the 2G scam.

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