Strongly rebutting Team Anna's allegations of corruption against him, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today offered to quit public life and face any punishment if charges on coal block allotments are proved.
"Let the people of India decided as to what crime the Prime Minister has committed for which such hard and harsh words are being used against him. If I have indulged any such misdeed, then my entire public career, be it as Finance Minister, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha or as Prime Minister...whoever levels allegations in this regard should substantiate it," Singh told reporters on his way back from Myanmar.
He said it was unfortunate that irresponsible allegations relating to irregularities in allocation of coal blocks are being made without confirming facts.
"If there is even an iota of truth in it, then I will give up my public career and the country can give me any punishment," he said, adding his public life has been an open book.
Singh deprecated use of harsh words against him by Team Anna. "To use such words, which have been used without reason or rhyme, I think, the public in India should make up its mind whether this sort of politics will rule the roost in the country," Singh said.
This is the Prime Minister's first reaction to allegations accusing him of corruption for the first time when they referred to a draft CAG report on allocation blocks when he held charge of Coal ministry. He also termed as "unfortunate and irresponsible" the corruption allegations levelled against him and 14 of his ministerial colleagues by Team Anna.
Team Anna members Prashant and Shanti Bhushan's had on Saturday charged the Prime Minister and 14 cabinet ministers of "massive" corruption and sought an independent probe into the charges.
Team Anna questioned the role of Manmohan Singh in the coal scam which recently came to light. The prime minister was in charge of the coal portfolio from November 2006 to May 2009.
According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), mining rights for coal blocks had been allocated without auctioning them and this led to massive profits for some chosen private firms.
"Under his (Manmohan Singh's) watch, a major coal allocation scam took place, which allowed private firms to make windfall gains, as is clear from the facts that are now out in the public domain and the report of the CAG," said the documents released by Team Anna Saturday.