"Once hands are washed off coal, they again become clean," the home minister said sending ripples among the audience gathered for an award distribution ceremony in memory of eminent Marathi poet late Narayan Surve.
Shinde was reacting to the remark of one of the awardees Vilas Patil who said "Earlier, diamonds used to be discovered from coal mines. Now mines are throwing up strange people".
When reporters quizzed Shinde about his remark after the function, he said, "Do you remember petrol pumps (scam) during NDA rule?".
When asked if there is any possibility of mid-term polls against the backdrop of Opposition BJP staying firm on its demand for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in connection with allocation of coal blocks, Shinde replied in the negative.
He said he was hopeful of a solution to the logjam in Parliament. "UPA is strong and has the support of (SP chief) Mulayam Singh (Yadav)," he said.
On Centre's decisions to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and civil aviation, Shinde said "there was no other option in view of global economic situation".
He said hike in diesel prices was "inevitable".
Replying to a query Shinde said the UPA allies should be told the reasons behind these policy decisions and necessity of economic reforms.
On August 1 Pune multiple bomb blasts, the home minister said the probe was being handled by Maharashtra Police and not Central agencies.