SHADOW LOOMS OVER POLLS
Dasari helped the Congress launch a blitzkrieg against political rivals, particularly TDP, and making the influential Kapu caste rally behind the party between 1996 and 1999. He was made a Rajya Sabha member in 2000 and became minister of state for coal during UPA 1 rule in 2004. His alleged involvement in the coal scam deterred the Congress from nominating him for a third time in 2012.
Meanwhile, Jindal, a two- time MP who once spent nine years fighting for the right to display the national flag, is unlikely to take the present sequence of events lying down. Given his combative spirit, he may challenge the way the agency functions once he has answered all its questions. The Government has denied permission to the agency to question senior officers in the Prime Minister’s Office and the coal ministry at the time of allocation. With the June- end deadline to explain their failure to develop the blocks nearing, the beneficiary companies are likely to surrender them voluntarily.
Hansraj Ahir, BJP MP from Maharashtra and whistle- blower in the coal block allotments, says several officials, who CBI names as ‘ unknown government officials’ in FIRs, will now be under scrutiny. “None of the allotments could have been made without their largescale collusion,” he says. On June 12, the Government allowed CBI to interrogate former coal secretary H. C. Gupta who headed the screening committee between 2006 and 2009 when the blocks were allotted.
Business aside, the political fallout could be disastrous for UPA and the Congress. Speaking for the party, actorpolitician Raj Babbar stuck to the familiar “law will take its own course” line. BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar contends that the scam is inching closer to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who endorsed the allocations. In an election year, the Congress has been left hoping that the coal scam does not blacken its electoral prospects.