New Delhi: Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal on Tuesday played to the gallery, saying he was being targeted because of his community and noted that the screening process to allocate coal blocks followed by the UPA government was the "most transparent".
"Allegations are being levelled against me for being a Jaiswal (trader community)," he said, adding that "all the Jaiswals were close to him."
"In a democracy, the screening process to allocate coal blocks followed by the UPA-I government was the most transparent one," Jaiswal told reporters.
The minister clarified no coal blocks were given during his tenure.
According to a CAG report, private players had windfall gain worth Rs.1.85 lakh crores in the allocation of 142 coal blocks during 2006-09 by the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The minister expressed hope that the UPA government's face would not be "blackened" over allegations of irregularities in coal blocks allocations.
"The UPA government will not be affected by the allegations as it is headed by an honest prime minister (Manmohan Singh) who is also a renowned economist," said Jaiswal.
He said the prime minister decided to switch to the auction route to allocate coal mines and ordered for setting up of an inter-ministerial group to examine any wrong doings in the allocation of 142 coal blocks.