I have nothing to hide: PM
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 09:32
New Delhi: Seeking to counter the Opposition clamour for Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into 2G scam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday made an unprecedented offer of appearing before the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC), saying he has "nothing to hide".

"As Prime Minister of this great country for last six-and-a-half years, I may have made mistakes but I have tried to serve my country to the best of my ability.

"I sincerely believe that like Caesar's wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion and it is for this reason that I am prepared to appear before the PAC even though there is no precedent to that effect," Singh said addressing the Congress Plenary here on the concluding day of the two-day conclave.

Noting that the PAC is headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, he said it has "all the powers which can be given to a JPC and the PAC is the acknowledged watchdog of any financial impropriety or misconduct".

No JPC probe

Rejecting the opposition demand for a JPC probe which led to a washout of the entire Winter session of Parliament, Singh said "government is of the considered view that in the background of the multi-faceted action now in place, no purpose will be served by a JPC, except to delay the inquiry and politicise the matter".

"I wish to state categorically that I have nothing to hide from the public at large and as a proof of my bonafides I intend to write to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that I shall be happy to appear before the PAC, if it chooses to ask me to do so," Singh said in his 30-minute address amid applause from over 15,000 delegates.

In his first major response to the 2G spectrum controversy and Parliament paralysis, the Prime Minister attacked the BJP, saying it has been "falsely propagating" that the UPA government is against the JPC because "we do not want the Prime Minister to be questioned by a Parliamentary committee, thereby implying that I have so meting to hide".

Promising that nobody found guilty in 2G allocation as well as CWG irregularities would be spared, he said the government was conducting a thorough probe in all aspects of the organisation of Commonwealth Games and the 2G spectrum allocation.

"These inquiries will be pursued vigorously and it is my promise to you that no guilty person will be spared - whether he is a political leader or a government official, whichever party he may belong to and howsoever powerful he may be," he said.

"We wanted to discuss all these issues in Parliament but one entire session got wasted because of opposition's obduracy. It is difficult to comprehend that only a JPC should probe the 2G spectrum matter," he said.

On Naxalism

In his speech, the Prime Minister dwelt on a number of issues ranging from Naxalism to the National Food Security Act, India's ties with various countries including Pakistan, terrorism, economy and agriculture as also on the party organisation.

Describing Naxalism as a serious challenge to the country, Singh said to face the challenge, there was need to rise about partisan politics and the Centre and the states have to work together.

This is the first Plenary after the deadly Maoists attacks in Chhattisgarh where nearly 75 para military personnel were killed.

On inflation

Turning to inflation, the Prime Minister said it remains a cause of serious concern and the government expects that the rate to stabilise around 5.5 per cent by next March.

Observing that the country had received good monsoon this year and the granaries were full of wheat and rice, he said the government was committed to put in place the National Food Security Act and also intend to improve the Public Distribution System.

"We want no citizen of our country to go to bed hungry", he said.

Singh said that the government was giving finishing touches to the Rajiv Gandhi Awaas Yojana for giving property rights to people living in slums and to make India a slum-free country.

On food security

Elaborating on the government initiatives in social sector like education and health, he said the government proposed to bring bills in Parliament to set up a National Council for Higher Education and to establish Innovation Universities.

Similarly, attention would be paid on providing basic health care to every citizen through programmes like the National Rural Health Mission with focus on communicable diseases.

On political stability

"The Congress party derives its strength from the hard work and commitment of its ordinary workers. They understand the aam aadmi's difficulties and problems", he said adding the party has played a major role in country's journey on the road to progress and development.

"Congress is the only party which can carry all sections of our society and the aam aadmi in our country's march forward. The Congress alone can provide stability to India. Only the Congress can secure for our country its rightful place in the comity of nations. If the Congress is strengthened, it will be able to strengthen our country," Singh said.

On corruption

Attacking the BJP for not sacking B S Yeddyurappa, he said, "We are not like some opposition parties which insist on retaining the tainted Chief Minister despite scandal after scandal. Yeddyurappa is facing allegations of corruption in land scams.

"Our approach to corruption also gets clearly reflected in our actions. Whether at the Centre or in the States, we have asked our Ministers and Chief Ministers to step down merely on the basis of suspicion because we practice and believe in principled politics," Singh said, apparently referring to the resignation of A Raja as Telecom Minister in the wake of the 2G scam and the resignation of Ashok Chavan as Maharashtra Chief Minister on the Adarsh scam.

Sending a message that his government was sensitive on the issue of corruption, he said if there were any shortcoming in the functioning of the government, "we will address them so that we can be more effective in our efforts to contain corruption."

Seeking the cooperation of Congressmen in the endeavour, Singh told them that as responsible citizens "if you come across corrupt practices, you must make your best effort to prevent and expose them".

Noting that Parliament is the best forum to keep a watch on and improve the functioning of the government, he said Parliament is at the centre of the country's democratic edifice.

Targeting the opposition, he wondered what kind of politics the opposition believes in when they "do not have faith in Parliament".

On terrorism

Turning to the issue of terrorism, he said after his government came to power again in the last elections, it has endeavoured its best to strengthen natinoal security in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

"Since the Mumbai 2008 attack, terrorist activities have come down. However, the Pune bomb blast in last February and the recent incident in Varanasi remind us of the need to constantly remain on our guard", he said, adding the "fight against terrorism is a long one and we are fully prepared for it".


First Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 09:32

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