New Delhi, Oct 24: Shortly after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said he was open to questioning by the CBI on the coal allocation issue, opposition parties expressed doubt over the statement and demanded all coal allocations done under him be examined.
“We have serious apprehensions he may not appear before CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation),” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad told IANS.
Prasad said the prime minister may not appear before the CBI just as he did earlier when he offered but later refused to appear before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee looking into the controversial 2G spectrum allocations.
“Not only in the case of coal block allocation to Hindalco, we want an examination into all the allocations when the prime minister headed the coal ministry,” he said.
Answering questions from mediapersons on his way back from his Russia and China visits, the prime minister said: “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.”
The Communist Party of India too doubted the prime minister’s remark.
CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta termed the remark a “belated realisation” and “only a show”.
“On one hand he defends allocations, on the other he says he is ready for questioning. He is just trying to prove his innocence,” he said.
The issue came into sharp focus recently after the CBI filed an FIR, the 14th in the ongoing probe, against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, his company Hindalco and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh over two coal blocks in Odisha’s Talabira, allocated in 2005.
Parakh pointed an accusing finger at the prime minister saying if he was involved in the conspiracy, Manmohan Singh was equally responsible.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) promptly defended the allocations saying they were done on merit.