The country's premier investigating agency, the CBI, has been asked to conduct a preliminary investigation on whether there was a scam in how coal fields were allotted to private companies during 2006-2009. During this period, the Prime Minister had direct charge of the coal ministry. The CBI has been asked to give its report within three months to the Central Vigilance Commission or CVC. The trigger for the inquiry is a complaint given to the CVC, reportedly by BJP leader Prakash Javadekar. Sources say the complaint does not name any person.
Allegations about Coal-Gate are based largely on a preliminary inquiry by the government's auditor which calculated in a draft report that by not following an auction for coal fields, the government lost in the range of 1.8 lakh crores.
The activists who work closely with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare have said the PM appears responsible; they say documents show that he over-ruled advice to auction coal fields and have said that unless an independent investigation is commissioned by the PM by July 24, they will begin an indefinite fast. The Prime Minister has said he will quit public life and the country could give him "any punishment" if the accusations are proven.
The BJP has said that the Prime Minister is honest but is surrounded by corrupt ministers. "(Dr Manmohan Singh is) an honest PM, who heads a dishonest government," said BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy. "His ministers go to jail...he becomes a suspect, because of situations," Mr Rudy also said. The BJP has also supported the demand for an investigation into the alleged coal swindle.
As a detailed rebuttal of Team Anna's charges, the Prime Minister's Office yesterday issued a seven-point statement. The press release emphasised that the government's focus on the allocation of coal fields was to ensure that the infrastructure and other needs of industry and a surging economy were met, and that imports were kept low. The statement said that coal fields were allocated with complete transparency, and that bids were invited through ads placed in newspapers.