Manmohan will be available to CBI if a formal request is made: Nath

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KAMALNew Delhi, September 8; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will make himself available to CBI in the Coalgate investigation if a formal request is made, Union Minister Kamal Nath said on Sunday.

“Why not? CBI under law can question anybody and the Prime Minister is within the law. So if CBI wants to question him, the PM is a part of the law,” he told Karan Thapar in CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme.

He was asked if the Prime Minister will make himself available if there is a formal request.

Mr. Nath said the Prime Minister has nothing to hide on the issue even though he held the Coal Ministry portfolio for a short period.

“If there is something to be asked from him, he has nothing to hide,” he said, adding his “credentials will remain untouched”.

He also dismissed the suggestion that the Coalgate episode would prove to be the ‘Watergate’ for the Prime Minister, saying the issue would rather prove to be the Watergate for the opposition which has brought many charges against him.

Strongly defending the Prime Minister on the issue of the missing coal files, he said there is no “malafide” in the files going missing.

Blaming the press for creating a hype to suggest that the government is stonewalling the investigation, he said that only when it is confirmed that the files cannot be found, then it can be said they are missing.

“Fifteen days back some were found, some more were found later on and more will be found. There is no malafide in the files missing. If there is a malafide, there will be an FIR,” he said.

Mr. Nath recalled the recent statement made by the PM that appropriate actions will be taken if the files are not found.

Replying to a question, he said the government would amend the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its purview and the Bill for it has been sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Asked if the government is committed to the Bill, he said, “We have introduced this Bill. We have taken it the Standing Committee”.

On if there is a second thought on the issue, he said, “At this time not.”

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