PM breaks silence on coalgate
press trust of india
On Board PM’s Special Aircraft, 24 October
Holding that he was not above the law, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today offered to face CBI or “for that matter anybody” in coal scam probe as he has nothing to hide.
Mr Singh, who has been under Opposition attack after the filing of an FIR by the CBI against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh in a coal block allocation case, broke his silence for the first time since the controversy broke out 10 days ago.
“I am not above the law of the land. If there is anything the CBI or, for that matter anybody, wants to ask me, I have nothing to hide,” he told reporters on board his special plane on the way back from China after a two-nation visit.
He was 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 Mr Singh, saying he was in charge of the Coal Ministry at that time and he should subject himself to questioning by the 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, Mr 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 PM.