Team Anna seeks independent probe into charges against PM

New Delhi: With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declaring that he will quit public life if corruption allegations are proved against him, Team Anna today demanded an independent probe into the charges, saying they will be most happy if these are proved wrong.

Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said it was not they who came up with charges against him but it was in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on coal bloc allocations. "We will be most happy if the allegations levelled against the Prime Minister is found false. But how will it be proved? For that we need to have an indepenent investigating agency to probe it," he told reporters.

"The Prime Minister has said that the allegations levelled against him were baseless, unfortunate and irresponsible. We want to tell him that it was not we who levelled these allegations but the CAG, which is a Consitutional body," he said.

Kejriwal said he would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he considered "irresponsible" the CAG report which is pegging a loss of Rs 1.80 lakh crore to the exchequer in the allocation of coal blocs.

Team Anna`s reaction came following Singh`s remarks that he will quit public life if corruption allegations are proved against him. "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," the Prime Minister had said, adding his public life has been an open book.

Another Team Anna member Justice Santosh Hegde said it is "extremely difficult" to believe that allegations raised by Team Anna against Singh could exist but demanded an inquiry if there are documents to suggest that some wrongdoing was done.

"It is extremely difficult for me to believe, having seen the Prime Minister all these years, to say that such an allegation could exist. But at the same time, if somebody has said it is in documentary form, I think an inquiry should be held," he said.

On Singh`s remarks that the public should make up its mind whether Team Anna`s kind of politics will rule the roost in India, Kejriwal said they do not do politics. "We are just common people who are affected by corruption and price rise. We oppose the kind of politics prevailing in the country. Today`s politics is snatching the food from the children, forcing farmers to commit suicide when some ministers are given permission to indulge in scams and get more richer," he said.

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy, however, attacked Team Anna claiming that they had accused Singh of corruption and want him to be prosecuted but alleged that they have not specified under which section of Prevention of Corruption Act is he prima facie guilty.

He asked Anna Hazare to leave the group which is in the grip of "Naxalite-minded crazies" and join him and Ramdev in the fight against corruption. Kejriwal refused to respond to Swamy`s allegations saying they will not reply to such remarks.

In his comments, Hegde said, "if there are materials that are there, I think an inquiry should be held." However, he said, he had not seen any of the documents Team Anna had sent to Singh seeking inquiry. "With regards to the charges made by Team Anna, I don`t have the facts with me," he said.

Bhushan said Singh should have gone through the documents accompanying the `charge sheet` before terming them as "irresponsible allegations…He should respond to them on a point-by-point basis, fact by fact basis."

Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said, "PM is first among equals. If his equals are under a cloud as a leader of the team it is good leadership to set up an SIT to know the truth. If PM is clean, he can come out clean. Please submit to investigation. It shall be the lawful way to disprove CAG`s deductions," she said.