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Sahay losing friends fast

New Delhi/Jamshedpur, Sept. 3: Tourism minister Subodh Kant Sahay appears to be in trouble in the coal allocation case as Congress leaders and ministerial colleagues who were strongly defending him till a few days ago are now shying away from speaking anything on the case.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram was grilled on Sahay’s unconvincing defence but he chose not to respond. He said, “It is unfair for me to comment on a colleague. The minister has given his version and it is now for the Prime Minister to weigh the facts.”

He stuck to this position despite several questions.

This was in sharp contrast to the summary rejection of all the charges by law minister Salman Khurshid a day before Sahay came out himself to claim his innocence.

Even party spokespersons have now restrained themselves on questions related to Sahay.

There is an impression that he spoilt his case by his poor defence and it is better to let the minister speak for himself.

One minister, however, said in a private conversation, that it was “madness on his part to write to the Prime Minister on allocation of coal blocks.” Sahay’s answers on his brother’s involvement with SKS Industries and his own role have not convinced majority of party leaders.

His continuance in the ministry would be analysed seriously during the reshuffle later this month, he added.

In Jamshedpur, the state BJP came down heavily on its rival for allotting two coal mines to a company on the alleged recommendation of Union minister and Ranchi MP Sahay.

Talking to newspersons at a city hotel, state BJP president Dineshanand Goswami produced copies of a letter written to the Prime Minister by Sahay on February 5, 2008, seeking his “personal intervention” in an application on two coal blocks.

The PMO wrote to the coal secretary on February 6 and on the same day, the blocks were allotted to the company.

“We seek an answer from the Congress and the PMO as to what led to the immediate allotment of the mines.,” he said.

The party's state president also charged that not a single mine started production out of the 80 coal blocks allocated between 2006 and 2009, claiming the decision was not made to push economic development as claimed by the government.

The BJP leader has held Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who then held direct charge of the coal ministry, responsible for what has been estimated as a notional loss of Rs 1.86 lakh crores by the CAG in coal block allocations, and demanded his resignation.