Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had nothing to hide and was ready to answer all queries of the CBI on the coal block allocation controversy, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said on Friday.
“The PM is a citizen of the country; the law applies to him equally. If the CBI believes it is going to assist their investigation, they can ask him some questions, he will certainly reply,” the minister said in an interview to Times Now. “He has nothing to hide, he is not above the law.”
Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, named by the CBI recently in a case regarding allocation of a coal block to group company Hindalco, said the company had done no wrong.
Birla, who met finance minister P Chidambaram and revenue secretary Sumit Bose during the day, said he discussed the CBI FIR with the minister.
“I obviously brought this up with FM...So many other things to talk about...work goes on. We are in so many other industries. There are so many other things to discuss with him,” he said.
“As of now, I am not worried about it. There is nothing wrong (that) has been done, so why should one worry?” he told reporters on whether the CBI probe would hurt the group’s prospects for a bank licence.
Earlier this week, the CBI lodged a case against former coal secretary PC Parakh and Birla for alleged irregularities in the allocation of a block in Odisha in 2005.
The CBI action has outraged the industry and even some ministers have questioned the move.
The controversy is threatening to snowball into a contentious political issue after Parakh demanded to know why the PM, who was also holding the coal portfolio then, was not named as a co-conspirator.
Nath said ministers may not be aware of all the details of the files that they sign as these were overseen by bureaucrats.
“There are so many files that have come to me, I cannot even remember. They (bureaucrats) are supposed to have gone through them...” he said.
“Did the Prime Minister say give the charge to Birla? No, he did not. He just happened to be the coal minister at the time.”
Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily said care should be taken that probe agencies do not scare away investors. “Because ultimately India cannot become just like Russia, where investors are not prepared to go and billionaires are put behind bars. That should not happen here,” Moily said.