NEW DELHI, Aug 27 � Refusing to be on the back foot on coal block allocation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today rejected the CAG�s observations as �misleading� and �flawed� and blamed Opposition parties for thwarting his government�s efforts to bring a policy of competitive bidding, reports PTI.
Speaking inside Parliament as well as outside, he took �full responsibility� for the decisions taken by the Coal Ministry whose charge he directly held for some time and asserted that at �any allegation of impropriety is without any basis and unsupported by facts�.
He attacked BJP for disrupting Parliament and dared it to have a debate in the House to let the country judge the truth while declaring that �we have a very strong and credible case� as CAG�s �observations� are �clearly disputable�.
In both Houses, BJP chanted demands for his resignation as Singh rose to speak. As a result, he read out a few portions of his four-page statement before laying it in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha which were repeatedly adjourned.
Conscious that the CAG reports are normally discussed in Parliament�s Public Accounts Committee where the ministry concerned responds, he said he was departing from this established procedure �because of the nature of the allegations that are being made and because I was holding the charge of Coal Minister for a part of the time covered by the report.�
Responding point-by-point to the observations of the CAG which had pegged the loss at Rs 1.86 lakh crore, he said even if the government auditor�s contention that benefits accrued to private companies were accepted, �their computations can be questioned on a number of technical points.�
He asserted that aggregating the �purported gains� to private parties �merely on the basis of the average production costs and sale price of CIL (Coal India Limited) could be highly misleading�.
The Prime Minister termed as �flawed� the premise of the CAG that the competitive bidding could have been introduced in 2006 by amending the existing administrative instructions, saying it is �based on a selective reading� of opinions given by the Department of Legal Affairs.
As coal blocks were allocated to private companies only for captive purposes for specified end-uses, it would not be appropriate to link the allocated blocks to the price of coal set by CIL, he said.
Facing BJP demand for his resignation, Singh sought to corner the Opposition saying the policy of allocating coal blocks without competitive bidding existed since 1993 and previous governments also allocated �precisely in the manner that the CAG has criticised�.