Bhubaneswar: The state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday staged a demonstration here demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the allocation of a coal block to Congress MP Naveen Jindal in 2002.
Accusing Patnaik of extending undue favour to some private companies, thousands of BJP cadres demonstrated near Raj Bhavan, the residence of Governor M.C. Bhandare.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are equally involved in this scam. Both should resign,” state BJP president Jual Oram said at the protest site.
He added: “While the chief minister recommended the names of specific companies for allocation of coal blocks, the central government took the final decision. The government should cancel allocation of all coal blocks and appoint a special investigation team to investigate the matter.”
Patnaik and his Biju Janata Dal government are under attack from the opposition parties for writing a letter to the prime minister in 2002 seeking allocation of a coal block in Odisha to Jindal Steel Power Limited (JSPL), owned by Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The chief minister has clarified that his government had taken the decision in the interest of the state. However, Oram questioned why did Patnaik recommended only one company when there were other applicants.
Describing the Saturday demonstration as only a “trailer”, Oram – a former union minister – said his party will organise protests across the state against the Congress-led UPA government at the centre as well as against the state government.
The BJP protest came a few days after the Congress demanded Patnaik’s resignation, questioning his motive behind the recommendation.
In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor General stated that private players had windfall gains worth Rs.1.86 lakh crore in the 142 coal blocks allocated to them.