NEW DELHI Aug 27 Indian Prime Minister Narendra
Modi on Wednesday denied reports that the son of a top minister
was involved in influence peddling, seeking to staunch the type
of corruption allegations that sent the country's last
government to election defeat.
Modi's office issued the rebuttal shortly after Home
Minister Rajnath Singh gave an emotional statement to the media,
saying he would quit public life if reports in recent days about
his adult son proved to be true.
"The reports are plain lies," the prime minister's office
said in a statement, adding that they "constitute a malicious
attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of
Earlier, the Economic Times wrote that Singh had complained
to leaders of the ruling party that a ministerial colleague had
been spreading false rumours against him. The report cited an
unidentified senior source saying there was a "power struggle"
in the party.
Singh, a former president of the ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP), holds the second most senior cabinet post after
Modi and is responsible for policing and internal security.
Modi, a tea-seller's son who rose to become chief minister
of Gujarat state, has cultivated an austere image since ousting
a Congress-led government tarnished by corruption scandals that
affected industries ranging from coal to telecoms.
The 63-year-old prime minister has installed close ally and
campaign manager Amit Shah as BJP president as he seeks to
strengthen his hold on power ahead of state elections that could
boost its presence in parliament's upper house.
Although the Hindu nationalist BJP won the biggest lower
house mandate in 30 years in May, its lack of an upper house
majority has already delayed legislative initiatives such as
allowing greater foreign investment in the insurance industry.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and