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The chairman and managing director of a maharatna, R K Singh, and a Member of Parliament, Chandrakant Khaire, have levelled charges of corruption against each other which have now reached the highest levels of the government.
Less than a month after he was accused of misappropriating funds by a Shiv Sena MP, Chairman and Managing Director of maharatna Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has hit back, complaining to the Central Vigilance Commission and Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily that the MP was arm-twisting him to award a contract worth over Rs 100 crore to a company of the MP’s choice.
This relates to the supply of 5.5 lakh tonnes of low-sulphur coal to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd's joint venture Bharat Oman Refinery Limited (BORL) in Bina, Madhya Pradesh.
The company in question is Hyderabad-based MBG Commodities Private Ltd, the third lowest bidder.
On August 6, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd CMD R K Singh wrote to Moily that Shiv Sena Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Chandrakant Khaire called him at his residence a day earlier “asking me...not to award the contract to L1 party”.
In the letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Singh claims that Khaire asked him to award the contract to MBG Commodities.
Incidentally, Singh says that on August 5 itself, the contract, as per norms, was awarded to Gandhar Coal and Mines, the L1 party.
In his letter, Singh mentions that Khaire had written letters to the Prime Minister’s Office on July 19 and to Department of Personnel & Training and the CVC leveling “personal charges” against Singh. Khaire had alleged in these letters that Singh had instructed BORL to buy coal from Gandhar and “that in the process...had misappropriated large amount of funds.”
Khaire is also said to have showed Singh a letter he had drafted to Director, CBI, alleging that Singh had misappropriated money.
Khaire’s letter leveled “serious corruption charges” against Singh for using “his power to accept the financial bid from Gandhar without actual percent of duties and taxes (being quoted).”
Singh claims that Khaire told him not to consider Gandhar as it was evading duty and supplying inferior coal. In his letter, Singh wrote that he called up BORL managing director B K Das in the MP’s presence and Das “expressed total satisfaction with the coal supply”. Singh then told Khaire that he couldn’t “interfere in the matter” as the decision lay with BORL’s board-appointed committee of which he was not a member.
When contacted, Singh declined to comment.
Khaire claimed he had not called Singh to his house on August 5 but had agreed to Singh’s request for the meeting after “some politicians” requested him to do so.
“I asked him (R K Singh) to work as per the law. I told him that while Gandhar was evading duty, the second lowest bidder was not technically qualified,” Khaire told The Indian Express.
MBG Commodities, earlier known as Maheshwari Brothers Group, is owned by the Mandhani family with Bijay Mandhani as its managing director. It describes itself as importers-exporters of solid fuels and suppliers of coal, asphalt and petroleum products. In response to a message, Bijay Mandhani’s office said he was unavailable.