TNI Bureau: Team Anna’s allegations of corruption against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in coal block allotment evoked the strongest criticism and reaction from political parties and the PM.
For the first time Dr Singh was seen in a combative mood to defend himself. He hit back strongly on the allegations saying, “I will quit as the PM if Team Anna’s charges are proved”
Dr Singh on board the plane Air India, termed all the allegations as ‘baseless’. He said that the facts have not been confirmed. “I will give up my public life if allegations are proved against me. My long public career as Finance Minister, as Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and now as Prime Minister has been an open book, he said.
However, Team Anna stood by its allegations saying that even as the Prime Minister himself may be honest but he allowed ministers to loot the country.
The civil society group questioned on the honesty of PM for the first time after a CAG draft report suggested irregularities in allocation of coal blocks, when the Prime Minister briefly held the coal portfolio.
Even Prashant Bhushan faced a strong criticism from his own Team members when he called the PM as ‘shikhandi’. Justice Santosh Hegde strongly reacted to the comment saying, the comment against PM is unwarranted. The word that that has been used against Dr Singh is not right, he said.
However, Bhushan made it clear that the Prime Minister may not take bribes himself, but he is allowing his Cabinet ministers to loot the public exchequer.
For first time Prime Minister’s name has been included in Team Anna’s list of corrupt in the UPA after the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) in its report hinted that the government has lost Rs 10.67 lakh crore by not auctioning coal blocks between 2004 and 2009.
Reacting to the report, the main opposition BJP had termed the loss as the biggest scam in the country even higher than the 2G spectrum allocation scam for which the UPA faced severe criticism.