With ED Case Against Dasari Congress Again Red-Faced In Andhra
Apart from electoral setbacks, the Congress is facing severe embarrassment in Andhra Pradesh with its leaders involving in large scale corrupt deals. It is already trapped as the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States has charged six persons, including its Rajya Sabha member from the state Dr. KVP Ramachandra Rao, with participation in an alleged international racketeering involving payment of bribes to state and central officials in India to allow mining of titanium minerals. Both the central and state governments are making their best efforts to delay handing over of him to FBI officials, taking rescue from legal formalities.
Now, the party is facing another setback with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the money laundering angle in the Rs 1.86 lakh crore coal scam. The ED has registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), which is equivalent to an FIR, against former Minister of State in the Coal Ministry Dasari Narayana Rao and Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
Narayana Rao is a popular Telugu film director. He created a record in the country by directing as many as 150 films. He has contributed a lot in taking party campaign to the masses being the state campaign committee chairman ahead of 2004 polls, during TDP regime. The FIR under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), taking cognizance of the CBI complaints in these allocations, has also named members and officials of the 35th screening committee.
Earlier in January, the ED had registered an ECIR against Navabharat Power Pvt Ltd and Grace Industries, their directors, and unknown officials of the Ministry of Coal under relevant sections of the PMLA. The ED also slapped money laundering charges against Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd, Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, and Sowbhagya Media Ltd, besides several unknown persons, in the case.
The agency, according to sources, has framed the charges after it found multi-layered transactions between the firms owned by Jindal to Rao’s firms based in Hyderabad and “illegal money” was routed for alleged favours given for the allocation of coal firms to Jindal in Jharkhand in 2008 by Rao.
The same charges have been made by the CBI in their criminal complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act against these individuals and firms. The anti-laundering agency has now begun ascertaining banking and other transactions made by the accused firms and individuals even as it is evaluating movable and immovable assets of those named in the FIR.
The other firms against whom the cases have been registered include Castron Technologies Ltd, Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited, Pushp Steel and Mining Pvt Ltd, RSPL, Grace Industries, Jharkhand Ispat, Green Infrastructure, Hindalco, BLA Industries and Nav Bharat Power Private Limited.
CBI registered the FIRs in this case after it conducted three preliminary inquiries related to coal block allocations between 2006 and 2009, 1993 and 2004 and projects given under a government scheme. According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), an estimated loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crore was caused to the national exchequer in the coal block allocation scam.
Just two days ahead of the ED framing charges against him and after the CBI named him in its First Information Report in the coal scame, Dasari Narayana Rao celebrated his 70th birthday. On this occasion, he warned the Congress high-command in a revolted tone. Though for couple of years these allegations have been running round the corners of political arena, he remained calm. For the first time he came out claiming he is innocent.
“These decisions are not taken by me alone. There are number of IAS officers and the process went through various phases. As a minister finally I only signed”, he said in an unapologetic tone. In a clever move, he also tried to shift blame on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and said that the Prime Minister could have “thrown him out” if there was something wrong with whatever he did as the junior minister.
“The buck stops at the Prime Minister’s table in a parliamentary democracy. I believe someday the truth will come out. My name will be cleared,” he said. “People will laugh if you say Dasari Narayan Rao took Rs. 2 crore as bribe,” he added.
Dasari Narayan Rao has been accused of colluding with coal block beneficiaries to influence a screening committee that allotted coal blocks. His comments came days after former coal secretary PC Parakh released his memoirs, in which he accuses the Prime Minister of failing to control minister’s allegedly involved in corruption.
Narayana Rao said that he did not want to read Mr Parakh’s book but he had been briefed on its contents. “Parakh can write a book or make a film, I have no problem. But…he made some wrong allegations that my secretary asked…for money,” he said.
“Parakh’s allegation is that when he proposed bidding, I refused, and that I did not cooperate…There were some practical issues, some political problems, so I have to point out those problems…If I was wrong, Prime Minister could have thrown me out,” he added.
There is a political angle to Narayana Rao’s grudge against Congress leadership. He was given prominence in the party till film star K Chiranjeevi merged his Praja Rajyam Party with Congress coming to rescue of the party government in the state, which was under the verge of collapse with many MLAs deserted to YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s newly floated party YSR Congress Party. Incidentally, both Dasari and Chiranjeevi are hails from same social background of Kapu community, who are in large number from the voting point. Ironically, Chiranjeevi was nominated to Rajya Sabha after his second term was expired and since then the party never tried to involve him in any party activity. Later Chiranjeevi was also inducted into union cabinet.
Expressing his angoras towards party’s insulting treatment, he said that the Congress used him when it wanted and never stepped in when there was trouble. “Twice Congress came to power in Andhra Pradesh…thanks to me,” he said and expressed confidence “but I don’t expect help from anyone, I will be proved innocent.” He also threatened that if he opens his mouth many in the party would be exposed indicating that the alleged corrupt practices during his regime might have share of several high profile leaders in the party.
By Ch Narendra from Hyderabad