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Updated: June 12, 2012 15:55 IST

Ready to quit public life if charges are proved: PM

Nirupama Subramanian
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being greeted by Indian children upon his arrival at the airport in Myanmar, Yangon on Tuesday.
PTI Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being greeted by Indian children upon his arrival at the airport in Myanmar, Yangon on Tuesday.

‘My long public career has been an open book'

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday that he was ready to give up his public career if there was even an “iota” of truth in the allegations of graft made against him by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and his team.

Earlier this week, Team Anna levelled charges of corruption against Dr. Singh and 13 Ministers, issuing a “charge sheet” against them, and demanding the setting up of a special investigation team to probe the charges.

The allegations against Dr. Singh related to the allocation of coal blocks when he was looking after the Coal Ministry.

Asked about this at an interaction with the media on his flight back from Myanmar, a disturbed Dr. Singh first read out a prepared statement, in which he said the government would put out a “detailed factual response” once it had received the CAG's report on which the allegations are based.

Until then, he said, “uninformed discussions based on leaked drafts are unfortunate.” Reading from the statement, he also said irresponsible allegations were being made against his Cabinet colleagues “without confirming the facts.”

But when a second question was asked on the same issue, Dr. Singh responded spontaneously in Hindi, and with much feeling:

“I will say this much for sure: the people of the country will decide what wrong has the Prime Minister committed that such harsh words are being used for him.

“If I have done anything dishonest…my whole public life, whether as Finance Minister, or in the Rajya Sabha, or [as] Leader of the Opposition, or Prime Minister, it is an open book,” he said.

Without naming anyone, he added: “If anyone makes an allegation, he must prove it. If there is even an iota of truth in the allegations, I am willing to give up my public career…the country can give me any punishment…but to use such harsh words, without rhyme or reason, I think the public in India should decide whether this sort of politics is the politics that should rule the roost in this country.”

Earlier, asked about the rupee crash, Dr. Singh said the depreciation was a cause for concern, but not unduly so, because countries around the world were facing the same problem because of the Eurozone crisis.

“The Eurozone crisis has made FII and FDI investors hesitant to go out, especially to emerging markets. But I believe this phenomenon is not going to last very long,” he said, but dismissed the suggestion that the country was heading to a near 1991-like situation. “We are nowhere near the 1991 situation. I do concede that it is worrying but other countries like South Africa are also facing a similar situation.” he said.

Countries were coming to terms with the situation, Dr. Singh said, and the G20 meeting in Mexico would discuss how to better manage the problem.

Asked about Army Chief V.K. Singh's allegations about the goings-on in the Army and the Defence Ministry, and the government's silence, he was ready with a one-liner: “Sometimes, silence is golden.”

Dr. Singh also had another one-liner when asked whether he would want to be the President of India, a post for which his name has done the rounds: “I am happy where I am.”

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The PM must have been bold enough to take actions against his corrupt colleagues. This is not a matter of who committed the mistake. The PM being the foremost minister must action his authorities to take action against the wrong doers. PM knows graft has happened and is still happening. If the PM claims to be an ethically qualified person, then he must have brought all corrupt ministers to the front.

from:  Balasaravana kumar
Posted on: Jun 4, 2012 at 09:15 IST

Dr. MMSngh had, in my view decided much earlier to be an honest person -- and he tries to be so. But he knows he is sticking to the job, because he is loyal to the power that put him there. This loyalty has blind folded him, and he sees no evil.This is the time to return the power to one who put him there.

from:  Harbans Singh
Posted on: Jun 4, 2012 at 06:10 IST

Personal cleanliness doesn't make sense when one is surrounded by filth. Looking away is no excuse, for a person entrusted with a huge responsibility. MMS should join the crusade against corruption and carve a niche for himself. To an impartial observer he portrays himself as a debilitated old age pensioner legitimising the evil acts of his corrupt children out of fear of consequences.

from:  Dr RK Rao Rebbapragada
Posted on: Jun 4, 2012 at 03:06 IST

Mr.PM, It doesn't make a IOTA difference to the public if you quit the public post or if you wouldn't. And i guess you forgot, you just cant quit it without your high command approval (i.e sonia gandhi). And i am pretty sure you would have resigned the post long back if you had that power to do so. You are just a pawn with no power. All you do is keep your mouth shut showing your innocence and helplessness. Is that life worth living and Is that PM post worth having it ? And please, i urge you to sit and go through all the comments given by the hindu readers and come to your senses now. Such a shame !!! Are we in democracy ? Do you realize where you are directing the growth of india ? USD 56 and 80+ rs Petrol. If you keep yourself silent, you will lead the country to destruction by causing hyperinflation..........

from:  Arjun
Posted on: May 31, 2012 at 11:15 IST

Hope MMSji is having access to these reports and citizens comments through his PR dept . What is the use of claiming personal honesty Mr PM , when in your backyard is a factory that has been producing the most mind boggling products of corruption this nation has ever seen . Sitting in the PMs chair for 8 years , don't you have a moral responsibility to the citizens of this nation who have been shouting themselves hoarse that there is looting taking place by your honourable colleagues . Don't you even want to investigate? Then what is the use of your honesty to this nation Mr PM . Better quit .

from:  VJ NAMBIAR
Posted on: May 31, 2012 at 09:16 IST

Manmohan Singh is an honest man. The only problem is his honesty is very expensive to Indians. Without doubt, he has proven himself to be the worst PM yet. His much touted 'economic vision' can be summarized with the following numbers: USD at 56, Petrol at 80.

from:  Praveen
Posted on: May 31, 2012 at 08:55 IST

Let us not recall to our remembrance Sri Rama and Manu Needhi etc to defend ourselves with reference to what we are doing now. Corruption is in our blood stream and we don't hesitate to press it into service for our own selfish use when occasion demands. India is now not what it was when Rama and others spent their lives. We the people are corrupt. So are our politicians. After all who are they? Are they dropped from Heavens? Let us not presume that those who are leveling charges against the PM are honest. Every one has a skeleton in his/her cupboard. They are deemed to be honest until their cupboards are opened.

from:  T.Sathyamurthi
Posted on: May 31, 2012 at 00:13 IST

There is something more interesting happening here, that average Indian does not realize. MMS may or may not be charged or investigated of any corruption as the head of GOI. But there is at least a chance he may face some legal proceedings. Behind MMS mask, the corrupt will never face any charges. The beauty of the system is: If the country does good, the praise goes to the party high command. If the country does bad, the responsibility rests on MMS. Our sardar is the true sacrificial hero for a corrupt cause.

from:  Anamendra Bharati
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 22:47 IST

ambresh shivaji's comments are not acceptable. Indira Gandhi, elected through Lok Sabha, is a symbol of Emergency rule and Rajiv Gandhi,elected thro' Lok Sabah with 400 MPs support is a symbol of BOFORS scandal.

from:  SANKARAN
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 20:03 IST

we need Egyptian kind of action....you are right or wrong doesn't matter to us if we 1 billion hates you...how can you sit on the post to represent of our nation?

from:  kalpana adhikari
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 19:39 IST

it is extremely cynical as well as amusing for the PM to say that his political career is a clean book when he is actually heading a team of ministers who have been committing all kinds of frauds possible and is presiding over a regime of corruption of himalayan proportions

from:  rajesh verma
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 18:32 IST

Oh, this is hilarious! An army goes on a rampage, raping, killing and destroying a nation and the general says, "I never raped anyone, I never killed anyone, and I will quit if anybody can prove any such allegation against me!". Sir, you are the PRIME Minister, precisely positioned there to take action when corruption has been rampant and problems have held sway over the nation. If you let your cadre run amok and then claim you are personally clean, which may very well be the case, that is in itself an admission of your unfitness for the job!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 18:22 IST

How to improve this chaotic Indian situation? All Democratic establishments Parliament, Judiciary, Govt.machinery and Media must be strengthened qualitatively, which may take atleast a few more decades. Anna's team is rendering a great service to the nation by enlightening public and no one should grudge on them. As an innovative suggestion, future elections can be held on lottery system thereby saving our hard earned money and hardship to leaders. After all we are fighting for money and its embezzlement!

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 18:17 IST

The 2G and other scams have already sullied the Manmohan Singh government. Even though Dr.Manmohan Singh had a clean and honest image earlier, he cannot escape close scrutiny now when his government,in public perception, is seen as corrupt.

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 17:53 IST

Dwarakanath Srinivasan must understand that we are living in kaliyuga now.Chanchal Dutta must understand that the political vision of the great Rajaji,aligning with DMK,spoiled the golden rule of Tamilnadu and this state is suffering for the past 45 years
without any sight of future. Ofcourse the political condition of India is alarming.We should have a round table conference,with the right thinking people,youth and intellectuals to discuss evolue and
decide our future.

from:  SANKARAN
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 17:45 IST

see his confidence on our investigation agencies :), he thinks that as far as he is in power they cant prove any of the alligations.

from:  Raju
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 17:07 IST

MMSji is the clean facade for a corruption factory called UPA ! Almost all Indians know it today . How come MMSji doesnt !!
Products of the UPA factory : CWG, 2G, Adarsh, Antrix Devas ,CVC Thomas , Air India , Coalgate , Reliance KG basin, land scams ;Tatra trucks ; demonic BRAI bill; Mumbai terrorist attacks & Kasab being protected ; scuttling Jan lokpal bill ; disappearing PCI report on paid news ; disappearing WGEEP report ; RTI activists & Journos being killed in dozens ..... etc . All these UPA products were under the tenure of a honest PM . Atleast on the basis of dereliction of duty , he must be tried and punished by the citizens of India .

from:  RALPH PAUL
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 16:43 IST

Dear Sir ,Who has to prove the allegations , is onus is with government or with the people ,if you are sure set up an SIT and verify all complaints do you have the courage for that ?

from:  soorya
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 15:54 IST

Sir! If at all, you think that you are clean enough then please appoint an independent inquiry agency headed by a capable officer.We dont want agency like CBI ! Let the truth come out in public. Besides, the allegations made by team Anna are from CAG's report!There is no point in doubting that report!Please face it.You are a politician of the highest degree!Please dont make any popular statements.Face the inquiry and let the independent agency prove it whether you are clean, honest or not!

from:  deepak ketkar
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 15:39 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enjoys a fair amount of goodwill at national as well as international level for his sincere work. It should not be a matter of concern for him, it will not harm his image however, will get more respect from everyone, because the important point is "who is speaking, rather than what has been told".

from:  Mohd Younus
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 12:05 IST

Corruption cnnot be eliminated from the society. It is a human nature. Even, the Anna Team members are not out of it. The main thing is to lead the nation effieciently. Mr. Singh is capable of it. Allegations are critisisms are part of politics and democracy.
Currently there is no leader in India like Manmohan Sing that the country and its citizen can proud of.

from:  Saju Kuriakose
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 11:49 IST

Prime Minister is not being emotional. He has made a very honest statement that he will quit public life if charges against him are proved to be true in a sharp departure from the positions held by general run of politicians when accused that they are innocent and allegations are a conspiracy hatched by the opposition to malign them. If his guilt is proved, I am sure he will stand by his words but let us at least wait for the outcome of a judicial trial if at all this matter goes to court. Prime Minister can be the head of the executive but merely his being in that position does not make him complicit in each and every crime perpetrated in ministries and departments under his command. He may be held collectively responsible but not personally a beneficiary thereof. It is for this very reason the Supreme Court has dismissed attempts to link him to the 2G spectrum scam. If he is involved in any wrongdoing, put him behind bars but let Team Anna first prove that allegations are not wild.

from:  Mukul Dutta
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 11:33 IST

The job of CAG is commendable. Team Anna is expressing a common man's
feelings. The whole thing will be clear once the Govt of India sets up
a special investigation team to probe the charges. Why is the PM making
an emotional statement. A leader has to take the blame if under his nose
all sorts of corruptions are taking place. I had high regards for our PM
being highly educated, intelligent and a honest person. But what is the
use of all these when he is unable to take the nation forward.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 11:02 IST

I am a staunch critic of congress, but i do believe that Dr. Singh is
personally innocent. However, it is clear that he knows much, and that
he is happy with the loopholes in his party. It is high time he
realizes that India is not congress, and that it is not a joint family
property of the Gandhis. Rampant corruption in congress, or for that
matter everywhere is costing the exchequer and scams such as the 2G
and CWG would not have happened if the PM had been firm. Honesty is
not only about ones personal acts, but also ones omissions. And
regarding his position, i think currently his position is not much
different than that of the President.

from:  Ameya Mithe
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:50 IST

These allegation is completely wrong against prime minister manmohan
singh because he is a very intelligent person. This type of allegation
can destroy our democracy.Team anna we all are with you but on this
matter it is not possible

from:  Dependra Singh Bisht
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:44 IST

You should lead by the respect of the people you command. A correct mix
of moral and ethical values is needed. He should take quick action
against ministers facing serious corruption/criminal charges. If he
support those, as done in 2G, he becomes one of those. We should prioritize scams/criminal cases on lose to the country. These cases should be fixed ASAP with the help of SIT in the benefit of the country.

from:  Arpan Khandelwal
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:38 IST

Team Anna is not asking you to go to the Jail, Dear Mr. PM. They are simply asking to set-up an independent inquiry over the matter of corruption charges on you and your cabinet ministers. Your public career may be an open book but it's language does not appear transparent to the common man. It's funny to know that the person who does not represent people (HE IS NOT A MEMBER OF LOK SABHA) relies on public decision. I believe you are a very educated person. Public cannot do inquiry so any argument related to their decision is irrelevant. As country's PM a greater responsibility lies on your part to come out clean in an independent inquiry. I can not value your honesty more than the honesty of Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. Please don't try to gain sympathy of blind people. Overlooking corruption is also a form of corruption. Be loyal to the Nation and it's people, not to the party.

from:  ambresh shivaji
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:38 IST

And we know no charge will be proved. And if he says that will quit if coal-gate charges are proved, in that case I would like to suggest him that there are already enough grounds on which he must quit public life. He is PM (leader of government) not a municipality clerk to make such noise. He must take all the responsibility of each act of government. I am just fed up of this man.

from:  Sumit
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:37 IST

Our PM appears to be clean, at least at his personnel level but the
question is, he heads the cabinet, he cannot shed away whatever
heaps of corruption charges against any ministers or the
government. In that context, he should have made major changes or
should have resigned as soon he felt he cannot do anything about
it.

from:  B Sajjanar
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:19 IST

Public life!! Ironical!! When did he have one. A PM who isnt elected by
the people. The fact remains that he let coalgate, 2G and the ISRO
scams happen right under his nose. Moreover, he even tried to defend
the perpetrators. He may not have received anything in return, but what
about the moral responsibility of his position. The current govt. has
pushed the country into the abyss with its policies and corruption. And
he is the head of it. This ofcourse is subject to what you call as
corruption. Neglecting the duties/responsibilities of ones public
office is also corruption.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:16 IST

It is distressing that we in India are amid inumerable problems where PM is also involved by virtue of his position. If India is to survive in democracy, we must have a national govt. comprising of all parties headed by Manmohan, Rahul, Modi or Nitish so that peace prevails in the country to enact better laws.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 10:01 IST

Respected Sir, on moral grounds you should have resigned by now. So many scams occurred right under your nose which you unsuccessfully tried to cover up. The situation of country has become worse from bad. We all know how charges are framed in this country, so no point in making such statements. If you have enough courage, then please make CBI autonomous, like CAG or EC, handover all the corruption related charges to them and setup an exclusive fast track court to deal with such cases on daily basis. That may save you from further credibility erosion.

from:  Abhishek Garg
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:42 IST

Mr.Singh though did not directly take bribes but at the same time not deter the ministers under your govt,who swindled the country, resuling in massive losses to country thru' massive scams like 2G, CWG. If country is more important, Mr.Singh, your honour can become a whistle blower and identify all those who swallowed that money. Will your honour do this as a service to the country. Your honour knows the principle of ultimate responsibility and where the buck stops. Black money a/c cover up is a big achievement under your regime.

from:  vijay
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:39 IST

No - quitting is easy. Pay us Rs. 176,000 Crores.

from:  Shiv Shankar Dayal
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:30 IST

Mr Prime Minister, just because you have been an honest man doesnot mean that your government is honest. And your honesty doesn't mean that you have not benefitted alone, if you have allowed corrupt things to happen also means that you are a corrupt man. Can you please indicate on what purposes did you certify that Mr Natwar Singh was clean even when things were proved against it, next you certified that there was nothing wrong in 2G spectrum allocation but there seems to be a bomb coming out, so why should the nation believe the most dis'honest' PM. No other PM has veiled himself & the govt of the day based on past goods that you have done. If you are such a clear headed man, how come it took 28 years for Tytler to be adjudjed murderer, next why should Rajiv Gandhi not be held accountable for his golden words "When a huge tree falls, the earth shivers". If you have to quit public life, do it for accepting the PM post after knowing that you have been brought to supress bad sentiments.

from:  VSeshadri
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:28 IST

Not corrupt does not mean not against corruption. As a leader PM is expected to act against corruption. YSR looted close to 1 lakh crores. 2G scam, YSR loot, mother of all corruptions happened under your watch. It is time you act as a leader.
For PM role -
10 marks - Not a corrupt person
90 marks - Acting against corruption
Mr. PM you figure out whether you get 10 marks or 90 marks?

from:  srinivas
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:24 IST

His fault lies with hiding the facts with regard to corrupt actions of
Raja,Maran, Kalmadi and sheila dixit. When Indian are facing severe
problems atleast the least we expect from him to stand up against
corruption and deal with it firmly. He failed miserably in that .

from:  ramakrishnan
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:23 IST

There is no point in being emotional, when charges are made. PM is in public life, he must remember. What about 2G scam. It happened under ur noise. Till Supreme. Court took the matter up, PM was. pleading innocence. We want a PM who is able, and who can take the nation forward.

from:  Vijayaraghavan Thirumalai
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 09:01 IST

I wish that allegations levelled against him are not true otherwise I
will not be in any position to have whatever remaining faith in
democracy. I have always considered our PM as sincere, intelligent and
genuine person with high integrity. He is the face of our nation. At
this point, I seriously want Team Anna to be proved wrong.

from:  Vikram
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 08:56 IST

Truth is bitter Mr.PM. You have allowed Congress and UPA ministers to loot 1000s of crores. Why did you do stick to PM chair. You talk honesty in your life. If you think you are honest then you would have resigned from PM when kalamdi, Raja and Kanni kind of people looted Indian public money. You can't keep murmuring that you are honest. Your wish to stick to PM chair made you to allow congress and UPA leaders to loot Indian public. If you have guts either quit or put corrupt congress leaders behind bar. Which you can't do because you are just mask of the corrupt Congress government and doesn’t have any authority. In spite of all this one doesn't feel shy to stick to PM chair. You have proved that your are no different from any other corrupt politician. To save your PM chair you keep your eyes closed on corruption there by you are cheating Indian public. We Indian poor public hate you for your worst governance and your love to PM chair

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 07:54 IST

The PMs response does not address the question of accountability. The top man is responsible for what happens under his watch. In the 2G scam too the PM had made a similar defence of his personal integrity. What use is personal integrity if it is not used as a powerful leadership tool to send the right messages and the right time? At top posts, personal integrity is a given, a minimum requirement and cannot be used as a defence.
Perhaps the PM needs to be reminded that he is at a the "retiring" age anyway.

from:  varadarajan raman
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 07:42 IST

There is no need for emotional responses by the ruling elite to a
demand by the people of this country for an honest probe into
allegations of misconduct and corruption . It seems to be an easy
escape route for the polity by appealing to the sentiments of the vast
majority of the unlettered , thereby misleading the people away from
the truth.
While Mr.Chidambaram wants a 'dagger in his heart' for what appears to be prima facie case of corruption by him and his son, Dr.MMS wants to give up public life for questionable allocations when the Coal Ministry was headed by him. Whom are these people trying to cheat? why would they never want an Honest independent Probe? The answer is simple, and that is, the people of this country need not know the truth and these scum would continue looting public money. All allegations of Team Anna must be probed thoroughly and the Minsters if found guilty must be thrown into jail, this can happen only if the people come to the streets and protest.

from:  K.S.Ranganathan
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 07:27 IST

Your comment “If anyone makes an allegation, he must prove it. If there is even an iota of truth in the allegations, I am willing to give up my public career…the country can give me any punishment…but to use such harsh words, without rhyme or reason, I think the public in India should decide whether this sort of politics is the politics that should rule the roost in this country.” Even a child knows well that you are the pivot of corruption and you will be punished positively in time.No media or any body could help you to escape.People explore a political vision of the movement that could take our economy back outing Congress from power and punished every individual involved in corruption.

from:  Chanchal Dutta
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 07:27 IST

This is the land of Shri Rama, ManuNeedi Chola and the path shown by them. Both these characters did not hesitate to order an impartial and possibly cruel inquiry against their own family members when allegations were raised. But here is our prime minister, who has conveniently forgotten Indian values and ethos and lives in constant self denial,power drunk either for himeself or on behalf of somebody and perhaps under the illusion that time will make people forget. He and his ministers are setting a very bad example for his own subjects"yatha raja, thatha praja". No amunt of certificates issued by the IMF and the world bank will cleanse our prime minister from all the sins of omission and comission.

from:  Dwarakanath Srinivasan
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 06:14 IST
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