Prime Minister meets President

New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday and discussed the budget session of parliament, which was adjourned sine die two days ahead of schedule amid a confrontation between the government and opposition on several issues, including the allocation of coal blocks.

Official sources said the prime minister’s meeting with the president lasted about half-an-hour. They said it was “routine” meeting at the conclusion of the budget session of parliament.

The meeting came amid speculation on the fate of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar following the apex court observations about the government’s role in the CBI affidavit on the coal block allocation issue.

Opposition parties have been demanding resignation of Ashwani Kumar and the prime minister in the coal blocks’ allocation controversy.

They have also demanded the resignation of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal after his nephew was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly taking a bribe for the appointment of a member of the Railway Board.

There has been speculation that the Congress leadership might decide to replace Ashwani Kumar and Bansal.

The Supreme Court had said Wednesday that the heart of the CBI report was changed on the suggestions of Ashwani Kumar and government officials.

The court also asked the government whether it was contemplating a law to make the working of the CBI independent and insulate it from extraneous intrusion and interferences.

The court’s observations came on CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s second affidavit filed Monday stating that Ashwani Kumar and senior officials of the PMO and the coal ministry had made certain changes in the report on the allocation of coal blocks.

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