New Delhi: The government on Saturday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is ready to face the Central Bureau of Investigation if necessary in the coalgate. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has told CNN-IBN in an exclusive interview that the Prime Minister will present himself for questioning if the CBI summons him.
Excerpts of the interview:
Karan Thapar: The 'Indian Express' has revealed that a gentleman called KR Chowrasia, the CBI's superintendent of police, wishes to examine the Prime Minister. Mr Chowrasia happens to be the CBI official investigating the coalgate, he wants to examine the Prime Minister and he's not being given the permission to do so. And I ask you a simple question. Why?
Kamal Nath: I do not know of that report. It's the 'Indian Express' saying so and just because the 'Indian Express' says so we cannot assume that to be correct. The CBI Director has already come out and made a statement that this is not the appropriate time or something like that. I don't remember. But if the CBI, let me say so very bluntly, if the CBI takes a decision that they need to speak to the Prime Minister on that there is nothing wrong.
Karan Thapar: So the Prime Minister will be available if the CBI makes a formal request.
Kamal Nath: Why not?
Karan Thapar: You sure you are not speaking out of turn.
Kamal Nath: I am not speaking out of turn.
Karan Thapar: You are committing the prime minister to an examination if the CBI asks for it.
Kamal Nath: CBI under law can question anybody and the prime minister is within the law, so if the CBI wants to question him find that for the purposes of the investigation, they need to question him, the prime minister is part of the law.
The statement came after the Monsoon Session of Parliament was lost to acrimony over the coalgate issue where the Bharatiya Janata Party was insisting on a statement from the Prime Minister that he is ready to face CBI probe.
CBI sources, however, told CNN-IBN that there is no need for the Prime Minister to be examined at this stage.
BJP leader Piyush Giyal accused the government of double speak. He said, "The government had said such things in the past in the 2G scam when the party had demanded the Prime Minister to appear before JPC and PAC. We have heard such double speak from the government in the past too."
A few days ago, the Prime Minister had called a meeting of senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to end Parliament logjam over missing coal files. The Prime Minister assured the Opposition leaders that nothing will be hidden and there will be full investigation in the missing coal files.
The Prime Minister had made a statement in Parliament asking members not assume anything, but it did not satisfy the Opposition. He said, "Anyone found guilty would be punished." Pointing out that over 1 lakh files had already been handed over to the CBI, he said the government was willing to co-operate in the probe and asked the Opposition not draw to hasty conclusions and should allow Parliament to function.