Stating that he was not above the law, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday offered to face the CBI in the probe into allocation of coal block to Hindalco as he has nothing to hide.
"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 said on board his special plane on the way back from China.
PM has been under attack after the filing of an FIR by the CBI against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former Coal Secretary PC Parakh in a coal block allocation case. He broke his silence for the first time since the controversy broke out 10 days ago.
He was asked about the clarification issued by the PMO last week that the decision to allocate a coal block to Birla-headed Hindalco in Odisha was appropriate and there was nothing wrong.
Initially, Singh appeared to be reticent in answering a question on whether CBI should be given so much autonomy that an inspector of the agency would be allowed to question the prime minister.
"Well, let me say, this matter is before the courts and I would not like to comment on it," he replied.
"I would not like to go into what is happening in the Supreme Court. It is the highest court of the country and I would not like to comment about the court as to what it does or does not," he responded.
To a question whether CBI cases and scams were casting a shadow on his legacy as Prime Miniser, Singh shot back, "That is for history to judge. I am doing my duty and will continue to do my duty. What impact my 10 years of prime ministership will have, it is for historians to judge."
Congress will form government in 2014
Manmohan Singh said the Narendra Modi-led BJP campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections "will peak early" and the country will be "once again surprised" by the results that will bring Congress back to power.
He also rejected a view that the Congress campaign has not been active and that the Gujarat Chief Minister was rising in popularity because of a number of scams during the tenure of UPA-II.
"Well, I think the Congress party is quite active. I don't share the view that Congress party is not quite active enough. The BJP may have started early but it will also peak early. Slow and steady, I think, is a thing which sometimes works in public life as well. I am confident that the Congress party will come out victorious in the 2014 elections," Singh said.
When asked whether the various scams in UPA, price rise and resignation of two ministers have affected his credibility and Modi's popularity was rising, the Prime minister shot back, "first of all, I would say that the scams that you are referring to took place not in UPA I but UPA II.
"After that we had a general election. The Congress party won in that election hands down and I am sure when the results of 2014 elections get out, the country will once again be surprised," Singh said.
Govt won't allow any harm to come to Rahul
Manmohan Singh aslo said government would take all "precautions" to ensure that any threat to Rahul Gandhi does not materialise but voiced concern over the "politics of hatred sweeping the country".
"Well, I and all sane persons should be worried about the politics of hatred sweeping the country. As regards to the threat to the life of Rahul Gandhi, government will take all possible precautions that this threat does not materialise," he told reporters accompanying him on his return from a two-nation trip to Russia and China.
He was asked about Gandhi's statement that he could be eliminated like his grand mother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi.