New Delhi: The government was faced with an embarrassing situation on Wednesday over reports which claimed that Rajnath Singh's son Pankaj had been ticked off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an alleged "misconduct", prompting the home minister as well as the PMO to issue strong denials.
Scotching the "rumours", Singh asserted that he would quit politics if even "prima facie" it is proved that any of his family member had been involved in any misconduct.
His statement came in the wake of a report which said he was upset with stories that claimed his son was pulled up by Modi for an alleged "misconduct".
Singh said rumours about alleged wrong doings by his family members have been floating around for the last fortnight.
"In the last 15-20 days, there have been continuous rumours in the air about me and my family. I thought rumours have no basis and these will end in some days.
"But I am seeing that these rumours are gaining momentum day-by-day. I want to assure the nation that the day allegations, even prima facie or even small, are proven against me or my family, I will quit politics and public life and sit at home," he said in a hurriedly called interaction with journalists outside his office in North Block.
The home minister said he has talked to Modi and BJP President Amit Shah about it and both of them expressed surprise and termed the rumours as completely baseless.
Simultaneously, the PMO also issued a statement, rubbishing the reports and dubbing them as "plain lies, motivated and malicious attempt" to tarnish the image of the government.
"This has reference to reports appearing in a section of the media over the past several weeks, mentioning the prime minister, and referring to the conduct of some union ministers, and alleged misconduct of the home minister's son," said statement.
"The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the government," it said.
"Those indulging in such rumour-mongering are damaging the interest of the nation. These reports are strongly denied," the PMO said.
The denials came in the wake of a media report that Rajnath Singh was unhappy over rumours being spread by "a ministerial colleague" and "party rival" about his son being pulled up by the prime minister over some alleged misconduct.
Asked who could be floating the rumours, Singh said that was something for the investigative journalists to find out. On the possibility of a political rival spreading these rumours, the home minister parried a direct reply, saying, "I have nothing to say on this."
The home minister denied that he has complained to the RSS about these rumours.
However, the opposition was eager to fish in the troubled waters with Congress taking potshots at the government and asking it to spell out as to what the allegations were about.
"The strange thing is that as opposition party, Congress has not levelled any allegations against his (Rajnath's) son.
"So the country and the Congress party want to know, Rajnath Singh ji, prime minister you should first of all say what are the allegations against his son, that you are denying," Congress spokesman Ajay Maken said while referring to the denials issued by the PMO as well as Rajnath Singh.
"With a lot of humility, the Congress party also wants to know from Rajnath Singh, that when it, the principal opposition party, had not levelled any such allegations, then who has made these allegations against you," he asked.
CPI leader D Raja said, "Without any fire, there cannot be any smoke. It shows there are lot of things...there is internal strife...the politics is changing."
He said the denials by the PMO and Home Minister were "too late and too little" as reports have been appearing in national dailies for days together.
Surprisingly, JD-U leader Sharad Yadav came to Rajnath Singh's support, saying the allegations were "baseless" as he (Rajnath) is a "spotless" person.