ON BOARD AIR INDIA ONE, May 29 (IANS): A combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday threatened to "give up" his public career if there was any truth in the allegations hurled against him by Team Anna.
"I will give up my public career" if there is any truth in the allegations, Manmohan Singh said while speaking to reporters on board Air India One on his return home from a three-day visit to Myanmar.
Team Anna had Saturday charged the prime minister and 14 cabinet ministers of "massive" corruption and sought an independent probe into the charges.
Team Anna questioned the role of Manmohan Singh in the coal scam which recently came to light. The prime minister was in charge of the coal portfolio from November 2006 to May 2009.
Manmohan Singh said that the allegations should be verified.
"Aur agar usmen jara bhi sach nikalta hai to main - I will give up my public career and country can give me any punishment," he asserted.
Speaking alternately in English and Hindi, Manmohan said: "Bharat ki janta is baat ka faisla kare ki kya kasoor kiya hai pradhan mantri ne jo ki itne kathin aur kathor shabd unke liye istemal kiye ja rahe hain (The people of India must decide whether the prime minister has committed any crime deserving such harsh words)".
A visibly anguished prime minister lamented about "words which are being used without reason or rhyme", adding: "I think the public in India should make up its mind whether this sort of politics should rule the roost in the country."
Manmohan Singh also said that there have been reports based on leaked portions of a draft CAG document about the allocation of coal blocks.
"We have also received a letter on the same subject. The coal minister has given factual details in response to these allegations and the coal ministry has put all the information on its website.
"We have not yet received the CAG report," he said, adding: "When we do, the government will submit its detailed factual response before the Public Accounts Committee as per constitutional procedures. Uninformed allegations and discussions based on leaked drafts are unfortunate."
According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), mining rights for coal blocks had been allocated without auctioning them and this led to massive profits for some chosen private firms.
"Under his (Manmohan Singh's) watch, a major coal allocation scam took place, which allowed private firms to make windfall gains, as is clear from the facts that are now out in the public domain and the report of the CAG," said the documents released by Team Anna Saturday.