In a move to cut its losses due to the CAG report on coal block allocations, will Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahay and Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal lose their ministerial chairs?
According to a Times of India report, both ministers are likely to be shown the door and other party members like Vijay Darda, Naveen Jindal and Santosh Bangrodia may also be distanced for their alleged involvement in the allocation of coal blocks.
Despite Jaiswal being at the forefront of the Congress’ defence against the allegations being leveled by the BJP, he could be removed due to what some leaders see as an ineffective defence for coal blocks still being allocated until 2010, the report said.
The minister has been saying that the ministry had been following the decisions taken by the screening committee, a position that some Congress leaders have reportedly argued, has made them more prone to attacks by the Opposition.
Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai, has been one of the most prominent targets for the Opposition, after it was discovered that he wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office recommending a coal block allocation to a company, SKS Ispat and Power.
The firm has his younger brother as one of the directors, and while the minister has claimed he had recommended the company purely on merit he has been unable to shake off the allegation that there was a conflict of interest in him recommending the allegation.
However, despite their attempts to defend their reputations, the two ministers may find themselves out in the cold after party chief Sonia Gandhi holds a meeting with cabinet ministers and is likely to reshuffle ministers, the Times of India reported.
While Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda has been named in the FIR filed by the CBI while investigating coal block allocations, he has not been questioned by the agency yet. Naveen Jindal has also largely avoided questions on the CAG report but has been targetted by the Opposition and accused of receiving the coal blocks due to his political affiliations.
But as pressure mounts against the government, with the BJP threatening rallies across the country to protest against the issue, a cabinet reshuffle of ministers is unlikely to help the Congress shake off these allegations.