With Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s letter to the Prime Minister about coal block allocation coming under the CBI scanner, the opposition BJP on Friday demanded why he had ‘selectively recommended’ the case of Hindalco giving it ‘preferential treatment’.

BJP Odisha unit president K.V. Singhdeo claimed that the chief minister gave a statement on his own on Thursday as he feared that the CBI was coming to examine him, which was a ’panic reaction’

Mr. Patnaik’s explanation that the recommendation in favour of Aditya Birla Group Company Hindalco was made keeping the best interests of the state, was ‘unconvincing’, he said.

Claiming that though many other industries wanted coal blocks, Mr. Patnaik chose to plead for Hindalco, he said “The chief minister must explain why he gave preferential treatment and selectively recommended the case of Hindalco instead of following the policy of a level playing field.”

The BJP leader said that the chief minister was trying to shift the buck to the Centre by stating that the final decision for coal block allocation rested with it.

Claiming that Aditya Birla group’s application for coal block had been rejected in 1999 during NDA rule when Patnaik was union minister, Mr. Singhdeo said “It is surprising how Patnaik went against the stand taken by the government in which he was a minister.”

“The UPA government should also explain why the decision of the previous NDA rule was reversed,” he said.

Mr. Singhdeo’s attack on Mr. Patnaik came a day after the chief minister defended his writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ‘examine expeditiously’ the plea of Hindalco for allotment of Talabira-II coal block in Jharsuguda district, which was under the CBI scanner.

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