PM says CBI can question him on coal scam: PM

NEW DELHI (TIP): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 24 on board his special aircraft offered to open his doors for questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the probe into the allocation of a coal block to Aditya Birla Group company Hindalco. “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 as he headed back from Beijing ahead of polls in five states including Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. Singh’s offer to put himself under the CBI scanner is his first. The opposition has been seeking to know why the CBI is not investigating Singh, who had cleared the allocation of the coal block in Odisha as the minister incharge in 2005. Hindalco has denied any wrongdoing in the allocation. The Prime Minister’s Office had hoped to cap the controversy before Singh left on a two-nation tour to cement ties with Russia and China with a detailed statement, explaining the circumstances and reasons for the decision. It had recalled that Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik had written to them to give Hindalco the coal block to help generate more employment in the state. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, did not relent and has kept up the pressure on the Congress-led UPA government and the CBI, which is investigating 14 cases in the coal scandal. Asked if a string of scandals, from the 2G spectrum allocation to the coal allocation scam, had cast a shadow on his legacy, Singh said, “That is for history to judge”. “I am doing my duty… What impact my 10 years of Prime Ministership will have is something which is for historians to judge.”

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