India

Indian media: Controversial book

PC Parakh is a former civil servant Image copyright AFP
Image caption PC Parakh is a former civil servant

Media in India are discussing the release of a controversial book on corruption written by a former government official.

Former coal secretary PC Parakh, in his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and other Truths, gives some intricate details on a scam related to allocation of coal fields, reports say.

According to state auditors, India suffered losses worth $33bn (£20bn) by allotting coalfields at below-market rates in the years up to 2009, making it one of the biggest scams to afflict the country.

After the release of the book on Monday, Mr Parakh said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could have "avoided" the scam if he had used his authority and pushed for reforms, The Hindu reports.

He added that Mr Singh had little control over "wayward ministers" who objected to the reforms, The Times of India reports.

The book comes just days after the release of another controversial memoir written by Mr Singh's former media adviser Sanjaya Baru.

Mr Baru, in his book Accidental Prime Minister - The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh, reportedly claims that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had access to files of Mr Singh's office.

The release of the two books has given "ammunition" to the main opposition Bharatiya Janta Party to attack the Congress amid the ongoing elections, the India Today website says.

The BJP has demanded answers from the Congress party and the Gandhi family over the allegations in the two books, The Indian Express reports.

"The two books have only reinforced what BJP has been saying all this while. The family cannot any longer run away from the responsibility of answering questions," the paper quotes BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman as saying.

Mr Singh's office has said the issue of allocation of coal reserves is under "judicial scrutiny" and the government has "nothing to hide", the Zee News website reports.

Ambedkar's legacy

Meanwhile, papers are also highlighting a fierce fight between politicians over the legacy of one of the founding fathers of the country and Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.

India on Monday marked the 123rd birth anniversary of Ambedkar, a contemporary of Mahatma Gandhi, who authored and designed the country's constitution.

The Dalits, or "untouchables" as they used to be known, celebrated the event but the ruling Congress party and the BJP attacked each other on the occasion.

Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for the BJP, accused the Congress of not doing enough for the betterment of the Dalits.

"It is unfortunate that the Gandhi family has stopped the implementation of rights given by Ambedkar," The Indian Express quotes Modi as saying.

In response, the Congress alleged that Mr Modi is biased against the Dalits, The Hindu reports.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief and Dalit leader Mayawati also criticised the BJP, saying the right-wing party sees Dalits as Hindus only during the election season, the India Today website reports.

Ms Mayawati claimed that the BJP had "not liked it" when Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, was given to Ambedkar, the website says.

And finally, in some promising news for women lawyers, the Delhi High Court is set to get its first woman chief justice, reports say.

President Pranab Mukherjee has accepted the appointment of Justice G Rohini for the court's top position, The Times of India reports.

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