Coal scam row: Manmohan Singh rejects opposition demand for resignation

New Delhi, Apr. 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has rejected demands for his resignation as well as that of Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar on the issue of alleged interference in the preparation of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) status report in the coal scam.

Dr. Singh, who dismissed the opposition demand for his resignation on the coal blocks allocation scam, said this was not the first time they were making such a demand.

"This is not the first time in the last nine years, how many times... (they have demanded the resignation). But I would like to appeal to the opposition that they should let Parliament function," Dr. Singh told mediapersons on the sidelines of the defence investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Saturday.

"There is no question of the Law Minister resigning. The matter is now in the court and it is sub-judice. It is not proper for me to do anything. But there is no question of the Law Minister resigning," he added, when asked whether he would ask for the Law Minister's resignation.

The Prime Minister also declined to comment on the BJP's charge that he used the Law Minister as a shield to 'safeguard' himself.

"I would not like to comment on this subject. It is a matter which is now before the court and it is sub judice," he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath yesterday hit back at the BJP for demanding the Prime Minister's resignation on the coal scam issue, saying the opposition's demand is unreasonable.

"The opposition's demand is unreasonable. After every three months since the last nine years, the BJP has been demanding the Prime Minister's resignation," Nath told mediapersons outside the Parliament here.

"The Law Minister (Ashwani Kumar) will not resign. He went through only the draft report and not the final report," he added.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari echoing similar sentiments said the opposition has been feeling disillusioned for the last nine years, and added that it always believed that the UPA Government would not survive more than six months.

"Unfortunately, their hopes have been repeatedly belied. So therefore, there is nothing else that you can really expect from the opposition. But I would like to point out that the people of this country need to seriously ponder and really need to introspect as to whether the irresponsibility of the opposition can be allowed to go to an extent whereby the entire politics of this country becomes obstructionist," said Tewari.

"So therefore, I think in a parliamentary democracy every stakeholder has an equal responsibility," he added.

The BJP had earlier on Friday demanded the Prime Minister's resignation, and alleged that he was using the Law Ministry to save himself from the probe in the case.

"CBI today has stated that its affidavit was filed after interference by the government and this proves that the Law Minister was misusing his office to save the Prime Minister in the coal scam," said BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

"BJP is now fully firm on its demand for resignation of the PM. The CBI affidavit proves that the Prime Minister wanted to save himself from the CBI inquiry using the law ministry," he added.

Rudy further said the CBI was asked to share its report with the government despite the Supreme Court directing it not to share its report with anyone in the government.

The Law Minister, who is under opposition attack over the CBI affidavit on the coal scam issue, has said that he had done 'no wrong'.

The CBI yesterday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on its probe into the coal block allocations.

In his affidavit, the CBI Director assured the apex court that the agency will not share further status reports in this case with any member of the political executive.

He also said that the latest status report being filed on Friday has not been shared with any political executive in any manner whatsoever.

"I confirm that the present status report being filed in this court has not been shared with any political executive in any manner whatsoever," he said.

The alleged coal scam washed out the Monsoon Session of Parliament after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said the under priced sales of coalfields might have cost the exchequer a loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore.

It is alleged that the government cost the country thousands of crores of public money because it did not follow a transparent bidding process, while allocating the coal blocks

The BJP is demanding Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's resignation, who was the coal minister between 2006-2009, when many of the sales occurred. (ANI)