You have said that former coal minister Shibu Soren and his deputy D Narayana Rao defied Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Are you trying to say that Singh had no control over his ministers?
PC Parakh: Both Soren and Rao resolutely opposed introduction of the competitive bidding process. The Prime Minister was not able to control his ministers in the proposal I made in 2004. I saw how ministers have overturned the Prime Minister’s decision. If the Prime Minister had used his authority behind the reforms proposal it (scam) could have been avoided. The fact is that if there was political will, open bidding could have been implemented in 2004.
Why did it take you 8-9 years to write how your efforts for a transparent system for allocating coal blocks were negated? Is it a coincidence that the book by PM’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru and your book got published almost simultaneously?
PC Parakh: I had started writing the book quite sometime back highlighting my career in the administrative service. So it took me considerable time. But after the CAG report and CBI probe, I have just added one chapter to it. I was not aware whether Baru was writing a book and when it was slated to be released. I felt the need to write a book so that new people in the bureaucracy can learn to withstand political pulls and pressures.
Why do you say that the CBI is on a witch hunt?
PC Parakh: The CBI says there was a conspiracy. But if it thought there was a conspiracy then it has to be at least between two people who took decisions. Since it was the Prime Minister, who finally took the decision, if I am a part of conspiracy then he has to be a part of it too.
How many coal blocks were distributed through the screening committee route in your tenure as coal secretary?
PC Parakh: As far my recollection goes, about 20-25 blocks were allocated during my tenure. On the Mahan coal block, the state government did make a recommendation. However, according to the business rules of the government, unless powers are delegated to him, a secretary only makes a recommendation.