On board PMs aircraft
Unfazed by the clamour of allegations against him,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said he had nothing to hide in the coal blocks allotments case and is willing to be questioned by the CBI as he is not above the law of the land.
Singh also asserted that despite scams surfacing in UPA-1,the Congress had won hands down in 2009 and he was certain a similar surprise was in store in 2014.
I am not above the law of the land. If there is anything that the CBI,or for that matter,anybody wants to ask,I have nothing to hide, Singh said about the CBI reaching his doorstep in connection with a coal block allotted to Aditya Birla group firm Hindalco.
The Prime Ministers comments came two days after the CBI wrote to his office seeking details of files related to the allotment. It also sought a letter written by Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik backing Hindalcos case for the block.
Last week,the CBI filed an FIR against Aditya Birla chief Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh,accusing them of criminal conspiracy in the case that saw the government first refusing to allot the Talabira coal block in Orissa to Hindalco and then doing a U-turn and making the allotment.
Subsequently,the PMO had said the allotment was entirely appropriate and was done on the merits of the case. It had also said that the allotment had been strongly supported by the Orissa government of Patnaik.
Speaking to the media on his way back from visits to Russia and China,Singh was quite confident that the accusations and cases will not adversely impact the electoral prospects of the Congress next year.
First of all,I would say the ‘scams that you are referring to,took place not in UPA-II,they took place in UPA-I. After that we had a general election. The Congress party won in that election hands down and I am sure when the result of 2014 gets out,the country will once again be surprised, Singh said when asked if his credibility had taken a beating because of a spate of scams during his tenure.
The politician in Singh was well on display Thursday as he refused to get drawn into any detailed discussion on the legacy he would be leaving after nearly a decade at the helm. That is for history to judge. I am doing my duty. I will continue to do my duty. What impact my 10 years of prime ministership will have is something which is for historians to judge, he said.
Instead,Singh sought to turn the gaze on the BJP and Narendra Modi as he expressed concern over what he said is the hate politics being spread across the country. I and all sane persons should be worried about the politics of hate now sweeping the country.
In this context,the PM also took serious note of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhis fear that he could be killed like his father and grandmother. As regards,the threat to the life of Rahul Gandhi,the government will take all possible precautions that this threat does not materialise.
On the BJPs electoral campaign itself,Singh felt that while the Congress was slow and steady,the BJP was peaking too early. I think the BJP may have started early but I think it will also peak early and slow and steady,I think,is the thing which sometimes works in public life as well and I am confident that Congress party will come out victorious in the 2014 elections.
For all the batting he did on the front-foot,Singh was extremely cautious not to rub the courts the wrong way. In fact,when the first question on the coal issue came up,Singh actually refrained from making a comment. Well,let me say that the matter is now in the courts and I wouldnt like to comment on that, he said when asked whether the CBI was overstepping its brief by trying to probe the Prime Ministers role.
Even to a larger question on whether an overactive Supreme Court was having a negative impact on the bureaucracy,the PM said: I wouldnt like to go into what is happening in the court. The Supreme Court is the final court of our country. I wouldnt like to comment on what the court does or what the court does not (do).