PM comes to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar’s defence

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New Delhi, Apr 27 (PTI):Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today put up a strong defence of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and rejected the demand for his resignation over the alleged interference in the preparation of the CBI status report in the coal scam.

He also brushed aside demands for his own resignation and declined to respond to allegations that he used Kumar as a shield to “safeguard” himself.

“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 told reporters in Rashtrapati Bhawan when asked whether he would seek Kumar’s resignation.

The demand for Kumar’s resignation mounted after the CBI told the Supreme Court yesterday that the status report on the coal block allocations was shared with the political executive and Joint Secretary-level officers in the PMO and Coal Ministry.

On BJP’s charge that he was using the Law Minister as a shield to “safeguard” himself in the coalgate probe, Singh said, “I would not like to comment on this subject. It is a matter which is now before the court.”

He dismissed the opposition demand for his resignation on the coal blocks allocation scam, saying 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 the Parliament function,” he said, when asked about the opposition demand for his resignation.

He also appealed the opposition to let the Parliament function and discuss all the issues there.

“By not allowing Parliament to function, we are making mockery of our system of democracy. The whole world is laughing at us. Whatever the issues, these can be debated, discussed and decisions arrived at through proper dialogue at Parliament,” he said.

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