The CPI(M) on Friday accused Commerce Minister Anand Sharma of trying to intimidate the CBI by defending an industrialist being investigated by the agency in the allocation of coal blocks.

“It is shocking that a Union Minister, Anand Sharma, has come out in defence of a big industrialist claiming he is innocent in the case,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

“This is nothing but a blatant effort to influence the case and intimidate the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation),” it said.

The CBI has lodged an FIR against the chairman of Hindalco and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh in a coal allocation case as part of the ongoing investigation into the coal block allocation.

The CPI(M) said it had been demanding a thorough investigation into the illegal allocation of natural resources “to ensure windfall profits to certain companies.

“Since this involved the period when Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) was in charge of the coal ministry, this aspect also needs investigation.”

The CPI(M) said that minister Sharma’s stand “is also to justify the covert policy of privatising the coal industry which is the root cause for the corruption involved”.

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