Coalgate: PM Manmohan Singh says ready to be probed by CBI

Responding to CBI`s FIR in the coal block allocations scam involving Hindalco, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh upon landing in the capital after his tour to China said he was ready to face the probe.

By Hemant Abhishek | Updated: Oct 25, 2013, 12:15 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek

New Delhi: Responding to the Central Bureau of Investigation`s (CBI) FIR in the coal block allocations scam involving Hindalco, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, upon landing in the capital after his tour to China, on Thursday said he was ready to face the probe.
"I am not above law, and ready to face he CBI in coal scam probe," the Prime Minister said.

CBI recently filed an FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh in a coal block allocation case.

PM was then asked about the clarification issued by the PMO last week that the decision to allocate a coal block to Birla-headed Hindalco in Odisha was appropriate and there was nothing wrong.

The opposition attacked Singh, saying he was charge of the Coal Ministry at that time and he should subject himself to questioning by CBI.

Noted industrialists and trade bodies had attacked the CBI action, saying caution should be exercised while dealing with reputed individuals, industrialists and honest bureaucrats.

Initially, Singh appeared to be reticent in answering a question on whether CBI should be given so much autonomy that an inspector of the agency would be allowed to question the prime minister.

"Well, let me say, this matter is before the courts and I would not like to comment on it," he replied.

Referring to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi`s speech where he said that there could be a threat to his life and he could be eliminated like his grand mother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi, the PM said all "precautions" to ensure that any such threat does not materialise but voiced concern over the "politics of hatred sweeping the country".

"Well, I and all sane persons should be worried about the politics of hatred sweeping the country. As regards to the threat to the life of Rahul Gandhi, government will take all possible precautions that this threat does not materialise."

PM rejected a view that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was rising in popularity because of a number of scams during the tenure of UPA-II and the Congress campaign has not been active.

"I think the Congress party is quite active. I don`t share the view that Congress party is not quite active enough. The BJP may have started early but it will also peak early. Slow and steady, I think, is a thing which sometimes works in public life as well. I am confident that the Congress party will come out victorious in the 2014 elections," Singh said.

When asked if various scams in UPA and price rise had affected his credibility, PM shot back, saying, "First of all, I would say that the scams that you are referring to took place not in UPA I but UPA II. After that we had a general election. The Congress party won in that election hands down and I am sure when the results of 2014 elections get out, the country will once again be surprised."

When asked if CBI cases and scams were a dampener on his legacy as Prime Miniser, Singh retorted, "That is for history to judge. I am doing my duty and will continue to do my duty. What impact my 10 years of prime ministership will have, it is for historians to judge."
On Pakistan

PM said he was disappointed with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and asked him "even at this late hour" to recognise that what was happening on the LoC and International Border is not good for the two nations.

"Let me say I am disappointed because in the New York meeting (between them last month) there was a general agreement on both the sides that peace and tranquillity should be maintained on the border, LoC as well as IB and it has not happened. It has come to me as a big disappointment."

"We had agreed at that time that if the ceasefire of 2003 has held ground for 10 years, then it could be made to hold later on also. That it has not happened is something which is really a disappointment," he said when asked whether he was disappointed with Sharif.

The Prime Minister returned home after concluding his three-day visit to China during which he held talks with the Chinese leadership and inked nine agreements, including a pact to defuse recurring border stand-offs.