BJP president Nitin Gadkari has decided to sue Congress leader Digvijaya Singh for defamation. In a series of media interviews, Mr Singh had described Ajay Sancheti, an entrepreneur from Nagpur, as Mr Gadkari's business partner. The Congress has alleged that Mr Sancheti, a Rajya Sabha MP, was given a sweetheart deal for a coal mine in Madhya Pradesh because of his close links to Mr Gadkari. Both the BJP and Mr Sancheti have denied the charges.
In a legal notice sent today, Mr Gadkari's lawyer described Mr Singh's remarks as "completely concocted, defamatory, scandalous and un-parliamentary." (Read notice here)
When asked today if he would apologize, Mr Singh said "Main kabhi maafi nahin maangta
(I never say I am sorry)."
The government and the BJP have been trading charges over a coal policy that allegedly helped private players get windfall benefits of upto Rs 1.86 lakh crores, according to the national auditor or CAG. The Congress says it implemented the policies that were followed by the preceding BJP-led NDA government. The BJP, however, uses the CAG report to accuse the government of crony capitalism by giving coal fields at a fraction of their market value to businessmen who were close to the Congress.
Yesterday, a government committee cancelled coal permits for four blocks - two of these were assigned by the NDA. The committee is studying 58 firms, public and private, who failed to meet the deadlines for different stages of development once they were assigned coal fields. In addition to cancelling four permits yesterday, the review committee asked that bank guarantees for three other coal blocks be encashed as penalty for firms who were under-achievers.