In the wake of former Telecom Minister A. Raja’s statement in a court that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were aware of the sale of spectrum equities, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday said it was clear that the 2G spectrum allocation process had the consent of both the ministers and demanded their resignation.
“A. Raja has himself disclosed and admitted in court that the Prime Minister and then Finance Minister were in the know of all this and the entire transaction had their consent and approval. The two must resign forthwith as they have no legal, political and moral authority to remain in office,” BJP president Nitin Gadkari told a press conference in New Delhi.
He said that since Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said there would be no compromise on corruption, his party wants to know her opinion on this “revelation” and what action she intends to take against Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram.
Justifies NDA policy
The BJP president maintained that the NDA government in 2003 took a Cabinet decision that spectrum pricing must be determined by the Telecom Minister by consultation and with the approval of the Finance Ministry with an aim to determine spectrum prices in a fair and objective manner.
“It is now in public domain that against the repeated advice of the officers of the Finance Ministry recommending for the auction of 2G spectrum, Mr. Chidambaram after the grant of license on January 1, 2008, curiously took the position that the matter be treated as closed and the Prime Minister also confirmed this position,” Mr. Gadkari said.
The opposition alleged that even when some of the beneficiaries of the 2G licenses along with spectrum sold a part of their equity to foreign investors for a considerable sum, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister did not take any corrective measures.
“Inspite of evidence to show that 2G licenses have been given at a throw away price to chosen few, Chidambaram sought to camouflage by giving it the spin of infusion of foreign equity,” Mr. Gadkari said.
‘Biggest scam of independent India’
The BJP reiterated that the magnitude of the scam (Rs 1.76 lakh crore) had been decided by the CAG and not the Opposition.
“This is the biggest scam of independent India. BJP has always maintained that the 2G scam is not about one ministry alone,” Mr. Gadkari said.
The BJP was not impressed with the clarifications given by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Mr. Raja’s comments and the opposition’s demand for resignation of the ministers.
“It is curious that when our national president asked Sonia Gandhi for her response, Congress party asked Sibal to reply. He is the minister who had earlier said that the CAG report is useless and there was zero loss in 2G spectrum allocation,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
He sought to know why the Prime Minister had stated a week after the CBI inquiry was ordered that Mr. Raja was innocent.
“Why was the cut-off date for applications changed? On January 10, 2008, only 45 minutes were given for submitting applications. Bouncers were placed in Sanchar Bhawan,” Mr. Prasad alleged.