BJP surreptitiously backs Cong call for auctioning suspended mining leases


The ruling BJP was on Thursday scurrying to circuitously support the Opposition Congress’ salvo, fired at suspended mining leases, that such leases should be auctioned. 
 But the BJP smartly tweaked its support for auctioning of suspended leases with a rider that “their party would support the auction, provided the Union government declines renewal of these mining leases and withdraws the export duty on iron ore.”
Interestingly, the Manohar Parrikar led government is currently busy in renewing mining leases for next 20 years. Seven mining leases have already been renewed in principle and have been asked to pay stamp duty by February end. 
Addressing a press conference, BJP spokesman Dr Wilfred Mesquita said that Congress demand for auction can send a wrong signal to people concerned with mining. Congress, which is demanding auctioning of mining leases, needs to be aware of the fact that the decision in this regard can be only taken by the Union government and State has no role to play in it, he said.
 “If party is serious, then the demand needs to be put forth before Union government, which is ruled by Congress itself,” he added.  
“BJP will support the auctioning policy provided the Center declines to renew the mining leases and withdraws export duty,” Dr Mesquita opined. 
The BJP leader admitted the fact that auctioning would financially help the mining dependent people, who are currently pining for a sustainable livelihood. Pointing to retrenchment of workers by mining companies, Dr Mesquita said ‘hundreds of people are visiting (BJP) party office demanding compensation from government’.
He said that party has already raised the issue with Chief Minister and requested that mining companies should be directed not to retrench any workers, at least for some time. 
“Party feels that the Prime Minister should look into this matter and provide some financial package to the state,” he added. 
Meanwhile, the party’s first state executive meeting is scheduled on March 8, on the eve of the BJP government completing its first year in office on March 9.  [H]