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Book refers to Didi’s ‘50 jobs’

New Delhi, April 14: Former coal secretary P.C. Parakh has claimed in a book that Mamata Banerjee had given jobs to 50 of her party supporters in violation of norms when she headed the coal ministry.

“Soon after Ms Banerjee took charge of the ministry (in 2004), she forced the acting chairman of Coal India Ltd (CIL), Shashi Kumar, to appoint 50-odd Trinamool Congress workers as trainees,” Parakh says in his book Crusader or Conspirator? “They were posted as security men at coal mines of the North Eastern Coalfields Ltd. No procedure was followed in their selection: no advertisements, no tests and no interviews.”

According to Parakh, a list of names was handed over to Kumar and he was “told to issue appointment orders… none of these persons attended training… they used to mark their attendance and attend to Ms Banerjee’s party work”.

Mamata was coal minister in the NDA government from January 2004 for a few months. The Vajpayee-led government was voted out in May 2004 .

The 50 Trinamul workers were allegedly appointed at a time CIL was trying to shed excess workforce through a voluntary retirement scheme and the government had banned recruitment.

Parakh said Mamata laid the foundation stone in Calcutta for a super-speciality hospital to be set up by CIL although “the board had not approved such a proposal. She pressurised the chairman to pay Rs 25 lakh to Calcutta Municipal Corporation for evicting squatters from corporation land proposed for setting up the hospital”.

The former secretary’s point was that CIL was in the business of mining and not running hospitals. If CIL needed to set up a hospital for its workers, it made sense to do so near its mines, perhaps in Jharkhand, and not in Calcutta where a mere 0.25 per cent of its workers were posted.

Contacted tonight, Trinamul denied the allegations. “We strongly deny the allegations that have been raised against Mamatadi. This same person has written about the Bengal chief minister’s commendable simplicity and personal integrity in the book, although Mamatadi does not need any certificate from him,” said Derek O’Brien, Trinamul national spokesperson.

Parakh alleged that Shibu Soren, who was coal minister in the UPA, stopped Internet-based auction of coal mined by CIL after the “rattled coal mafia were up in arms”.

Parakh recounted a purported discussion with Soren.

Soren: Secretary sahab, if there is no understanding between you and me, how will the ministry function? People outside think you run the ministry and not me.

Parakh: Sir, as secretary and minister, we have distinctly assigned roles in the Business Rules of the Government of India….

Soren: Because of your support, the CIL chairman does not comply with my orders.

Parakh: As minister, you are not expected to interfere in day-to-day working…. (However,) the CIL board is bound to comply with written orders.”

Soren: All orders cannot be given in writing.