An impartial probe into the coal scam can only take place once Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steps down from office, Bharatiya Janata Party said on Friday in reaction to his offer to face CBI in a coal block allocation case.
Singh's questioning by CBI will be "meaningless" as the agency comes under the PMO's purview, BJP said as it once again raised the call for the prime minister to resign over the alleged scam.
The opposition party accused Singh of "hiding" things and having made similar statements in the past.
The party cited the example of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2G Spectrum scam, saying Singh never appeared before it despite a strong demand for the same and had instead offered to do so before the Public Accounts Committee, which anyway had no power to summon him.
"The only option before him is to quit, come clean and appear before CBI... The question is that the country's prime minister is under suspicion. If CBI questions the country's prime minister, what signals would it send? That is why we have said the prime minister should resign and (then) appear before CBI," BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said.
Meanwhile, in Srinagar, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "The investigation has reached the door of the prime minister. Now he is saying he is ready to go to CBI.
"(But) CBI is under the PMO. Its administrative control is with PMO. His joint secretary changed the CBI status report.
"So, saying that he is ready to go to CBI is meaningless. Perhaps he is thinking that he will get a clean chit from the agency the same way that Pawan Bansal, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav did."
Also, in Patna, another BJP spokesperson, Shahnawaz Hussain, said, "If you (Singh) are not tainted, if you feel you can answer the questions, then answer as the coal minister and as Manmohan Singh... do not stick to the prime minister's chair."
Sinha said CBI would be afraid how to question the prime minister and, hence, Singh should quit before facing the probe agency.
"He hides everything... puts curtains on the truth and does not allow it to come out. It is well known that under this government, there cannot be any independent and true inquiry into anything," former external affairs minister, Sinha said.
He said that former Coal Secretary PC Parakh's letter about the 'coal mafia' also raises "serious issues" and averred that the Cabinet secretary would have certainly brought the matter to the notice of the prime minister.
In Srinagar, Javadekar alleged that the property worth Rs 50 lakh crore, which belonged to the country, was given to 140 companies for "free".
"We would say that property worth Rs 50 lakh crore was given to 140 companies for free with the signatures of the prime minister. You have seen Congress's rule where one cannot get even a ration card for free, could such a huge property would have been given for free?
"Corruption has taken place, money has been taken and prime minister's signatures are there. In 2G scam, Raja (then Telecom Minister) was responsible if his signatures were there.
"And, in CWG scam, (the organising committee chairman) Kalmadi's signatures were final and he was responsible, then how is the prime minister not responsible. That is why BJP demanded his resignation... Caesar's wife must be above suspicion," he said.
Holding that he was not above the law, Singh had on Thursday offered to face CBI or "for that matter anybody" in the probe into the allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco.
"I am not above the law of the land. If there is anything the CBI or, for that matter anybody, wants to ask me, I have nothing to hide," he told reporters on board his special plane on the way back from China after a two-nation visit.
Singh, under attack from the opposition after the filing of an FIR by CBI against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary Parakh in a coal block allocation case, finally broke his silence on the matter after the controversy broke 10 days back.