Congress backs Manmohan Singh,opposition wants him to go (Roundup)

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The Congress Monday backed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and scotched rumours that he was going even as the opposition continued to press for his resignation over faulty allocation of coal blocks.

Dismissing reports that its vice president Rahul Gandhi may replace Manmohan Singh after a rift between the latter and party chief Sonia Gandhi over the dropping of two ministers, the Congress said the prime minister will continue till the 2014 polls.

“We refute such rumours and malicious campaign. No new decision has to be made in this matter,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters to queries if Rahul Gandhi could replace Manmohan Singh before the monsoon session of parliament in July-August.

“Manmohan Singh will be prime minister till 2014,” he said.

He said the understanding between the prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the most “perfect relationship that can exist between a party chief and a prime minister”.

Dwivedi had said Sunday that the decision to drop railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar was a “joint decision” of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi after reports in a section of the media said that it was at her insistence that the two ministers were asked to resign.

Bansal had resigned following the arrest of his nephew for allegedly accepting bribe for fixing a promotion in Railway Board. Ashwani Kumar quit in the wake of controversy over his vetting the Central Board of Investigation (CBI) probe report in the allocation of coal blocks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party demanded the prime minister must resign owning responsibility for the role his officials in tampering with the CBI probe report.

“The PM must take responsibility for the role of the PMO officials in tampering of the CBI draft report on the Coalgate prior to its submission to the apex court as it is crystal clear that these officials were trying to save the skin of their master,” BJP spokesperson Syed Shahanwaz Hussain told reporters in Patna.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist said the prime minister must clarify his position.

“The prime minister and the Prime Minister’s Office cannot escape responsibility for these affairs since during the coal block allocations, the prime minister was directly looking after the coal ministry. A joint secretary of the PMO was involved in the discussions to change the status report of the CBI to the Supreme Court. The prime minister’s image has been tarnished as he is presiding over such a corrupt regime. The prime minister has to come out and explain his role and that of his office in both the coal block allocation case,” a CPI-M statement said.

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