New Delhi, Nov 8: Former finance minister P Chidambaram’s statements that mishandling of 2G scam hurt the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections and that the UPA government should have cancelled 2G licences when the scam came to light without waiting for the Supreme Court verdict drew sharp reactions from diffferent political parties.
Chidambaram made these statement while responding to a question related to a discussion held during a book launch function here on Friday evening. He said the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh should have put his foot down without waiting for the Supreme Court order.
Chidambaram was speaking at an event, where Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was also present. He said that he had suggested that the government should cancel the 2G licences but it was decided that the courts should have the final view.
Congress leader Manish Tewari, however, sought to downplay the statement saying there is a need to revisit former finance minister’s comment.
Tiwary said: “You need to look at the issue in a perspective. On October 18, 2007, when the then Telecommunications Regulatory Authority chairperson, who is now the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, made a recommendation that the licenses with bundled spectrum should be given at 2001 prices, and subsequently, when those recommendations were accepted by the telecom commissions and licenses were distributed, there was an inflection point when reports had emerged in the public space with regard to the process by which the licenses were granted.”
“Maybe at that time, the Cabinet should have collectively taken it within their preview, because, it is the collective responsibility of the Cabinet. Therefore, if I were to read the former finance minister’s statement in a holistic perspective, what he was possible alluding to, was that the Cabinet could have taken that into their considerations,” he added.
But DMK leader E.V.K.S. Elangovan took serious note of Chidambaram’s statement, and said when the then Telecom Minster Kapil Sibal had come up with a ‘zero loss’ theory, then why should somebody say that the licenses should have been cancelled.
Elangovan said: “Why the licenses should be cancelled because (the person) who was made the Telecom Minister in succession of Raja had clearly stated that there is no loss.”
“When there is no loss and this policy was laid down by the Parliament and was in force since 1999, even during the BJP government, why should somebody say that the license should be cancelled,” he added.
It may be noted that the then Communications and Information Technology Minister, Sibal, had stated that ‘zero loss’ was caused by distributing 2G licenses on first-come-first-served basis.
The DMK leader further said, “If it was auctioned as stated by the CAG then how can they talk about the policy of government.”
The BJP, however, asserted that Chidambaram’s comment on the 2G scam is a matter of ‘grave concern’, alleging that his remark proved that the Congress party had tried to hide its errors.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told a news agency: “What Mr. P. Chidambaram is saying is a matter of great concern. When the former finance minister said that the then Congress government had committed mistakes, it only points to the fact that the Congress had tried to hide its errors.”
“But the people of India could see through it and that’s why they were defeated in the 2014 elections,” he added.
Patra further said that Chidambaram’s comment stood at odds with the then Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sabil’s statement that there had been ‘zero loss’ in the 2G scam.
(With Agency Inputs)