New Delhi, Oct 18: Claiming that the Rajasthan government stands "throughly exposed with mud on its face" due to alleged irregularities in allotment of mines in the state, the Congress on Sunday demanded that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje step down in the interest of a fair probe.
State Congress chief Sachin Pilot said the state government was forced to cancel the allotment at midnight and order an enquiry due to the massive pressure from the opposition.
"The action to cancel the allotment of mines shows they were wrongly allotted in the first place. BJP government in Rajasthan today stands thoroughly exposed with mud on its face as facts reveal that mines were allotted arbitrarily. The Chief Minister must step down so that a fair probe can be conducted into the over Rs 45,000 crore scam," Pilot said.
The former Union minister said the state's BJP government was in a "tearing hurry" to allot the mines.
Alleging favouritism and corruption, Pilot said some of the mines had been allotted on first come first serve basis at "lightening speed" with approvals from several departments being secured in a matter of hours.
"The deep-rooted corruption at the highest levels of Rajasthan Government is there now for all to see," the Congress leader said.
Pilot claimed that between October 30, 2014 and January 12, 2015, the Government of Rajasthan had proceeded to issue prospecting licences or mining leases for 653 mines equivalent to 1,43,253 bighas ie 22085.81 hectares with approximate estimated auction value of over Rs 45,000 crore.
He said the state government had also blatantly ignored the directions laid down by the Supreme Court as per which allocation of public resources including minerals in India should only be done through a competitive bidding process.
Targeting the Centre, Pilot said that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed there would be zero tolerance to corruption, the "shocking" events in BJP-ruled Rajasthan did not reflect such a stance.
Pilot said while the Congress party's protests had forced the state government to cancel 601 Letters of Intent and mining permission letters, he sought to know why no action had been taken regarding 52 mines.
Yesterday, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh had ordered a Lokayukta probe into alleged irregularities in allotment of mines following a recommendation by the Chief Minister.