Sharad Pawar backs Manmohan, calls him "man of tremendous integrity"

Mumbai: Calling Manmohan Singh "a man of tremendous integrity and honesty", NCP chief Sharad Pawar today stood firmly behind the former Prime Minister and said that putting him in the dock in the coal block scam may affect the investment climate.

"The entire world knows Manmohan Singh and what he stands for. He is hailed as a man of tremendous integrity and honesty. And a person of his character being made to undergo this fate pains us all," Pawar told reporters here.

Pawar recounted his experiences of working with Singh, first as cabinet colleague in the Narsimha Rao regime and then as the agriculture minister in Singh's cabinet to highlight his virtues.

When asked if making Singh and other accused may spook the investors, Pawar said, "It is an issue, and people will definitely think that if such actions are being taken against these people, then what would be our fate."

Singh, industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh were summoned as accused in the coal scam case yesterday by the special court, which observed that Singh was roped into the criminal conspiracy to "accommodate" M/s HINDALCO in Talabira-II coal block allocation in 2005.

About the land acquisition bill, Pawar said his party had some specific concerns and it was not opposing it just for the sake of it.

These concerns include the removal of consent clause, doing away with social impact assessment and removal of five year window clause to start work on a project, Pawar said.

Opposition parties will be waiting to see the changes which the government comes up with, he said. "There is a need to change the 100-year-old law, but while doing that, the farmer should not get affected," he said.

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