New Delhi, Jan 21: The BJP on Wednesday "welcomed" the questioning of former prime minister Manmohan Singh by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal mines while he was in charge of the coal ministry.
"The then prime minister was also coal minister in the UPA-1 and most of the illegal allotments happened during his tenure as coal minister," BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said in a statement.
"Coal-gate is arguably the largest scam of independent India and Congress government between 2004 and 2014 was manifestly India's most corrupt government ever," he said.
Rao also accused the UPA government for trying to stall investigations and shield the guilty.
"During the UPA tenure, every effort was made to stall investigations, shield prime minister Manmohan Singh and its political leadership who were the prime movers of the coal scam," he said.
Claiming that the BJP-led central government had nothing to do with Singh's questioning, he said that CBI was "totally independent" as it maintains an 'arms length' from all criminal investigations and allows all the investigating agencies to do their work credibly and "completely independently".
"CBI investigations have gathered pace in the last few months under the directions from the Supreme Court and CBI Special Court. This has become possible because of the totally independent functioning of the CBI under the present BJP-led government at the Centre," he said.
This was a huge welcome change in approach from the days of Congress-led government's subversion of all such institutions to hide all its misdeeds and to target its political rivals, the BJP leader added.
Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu also said that the Centre had no role in Singh's questioning.
"The court had asked why there was no questioning. The government has nothing to do with it," he told reporters.
The Congress termed it as a legal procedure with its leader concerned cooperating with the authorities.
"It is totally unnecessary and pointless to politicise or sensationalise a pure legal process under a court order considering a closure report. I think it's much to be appreciated that like a responsible citizen he is fully willing to cooperate to answer those questions," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.