Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a wise man, but in recent times no one in India has called him a "competent authority." Yet, that expression, mentioned in a preliminary report by the Central Bureau of Investigation that formally opened a police inquiry, inspired a consensus in the news media that Mr. Singh was indeed the unnamed "authority" in question.
The report was a part of the bureau's examination of the government's allocation of the country's coal deposits to private corporations between 2004 and 2009. Among those whose roles the bureau is interested in examining is one of India's richest men, Kumar Mangalam Birla.
In their coverage of the report, India's mainstream news media treated Mr. Singh and Mr. Birla very differently. Once again, Indian journalism appeared bold while attacking the prime minister and subdued when it had to investigate a billionaire.
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There were insinuations that the prime minister was not revealing everything he knew about the allocation of coal deposits. Commentators and politicians taunted the prime minister and asked him to throw more light on the matter as he was not only the head of the government at the time of the allocation but also the country's coal minister.