BJP on Monday reacted to the Prime Minister’s Office statement that Manmohan Singh did not look the other way while then telecom minister A Raja allotted spectrum to accuse Singh of “micro-managing” the policy that led to loss to the exchequer.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley alleged that the PMO’s press release on Sunday – ‘Arm’s length clarified’ – amounted to an admission that Singh knew every detail of the spectrum allocation. The prime minister was using diversionary tactics to avoid answering pointed questions on the 2G scandal, he alleged.
The prime minister has been shifting position on the issue at regular intervals, he alleged. “During a motion of thanks to the President’s address, he backed Raja saying that he went by established precedents. During the last session, on February 24, he told the Rajya Sabha that he had trusted the judgment of Raja and then finance minister P Chidambaram. He passed the buck on to the two ministers.”
Jaitley alleged that the prime minister through the clarification issued on the eve of the Parliament session has taken a third position on the matter. “On Sunday, he realised that he cannot maintain an arms length from his own government’s policies. He now wants to convey the impression that he was hands on as far as telecom policy was concerned,” the BJP leader said.
He claimed the PM cannot pass the buck as there is evidence before CBI and the court about Raja conveying even the smallest detail about the spectrum deals in the nine letters sent to the prime minister.
“Raja had brought to the notice of the prime minister that the allocation of spectrum was not by auction and that in 2008, spectrum was being allotted at 2001 prices. He had also informed the PM that he had changed the basis of first-come-first-serve policy. The PM has already agreed that Raja and Chidambaram had in a meeting on July 4, 2008, explained the lower entry fee rationale to him. The government has now admitted that when some companies went for issuance of additional equity in favour of some foreign entities, the prime minister was informed about it.”
Jaitley said it was rather curious that Singh, an economist of some standing, kept mum while a part of the equity of a company was sold for over 6,000 crore. “The first thing that should have struck him should have been, how did his government allow the sale of entire spectrum for 1,651 crore.”
The BJP leader, who charged the prime minister with failing in his supervisory role, said he meekly gave into Dayanidhi Maran’s decision that entry fee would be decided by the telecom minister and not by the EGoM. “Equally surprising is the prime minister’s decision not to insist on the DoT following law ministry’s opinion on the spectrum pricing.”
Jaitley said the prime minister can no longer shift from being an outsider to insider. “The latest disclosures reveal that the prime minister was involved in the micro management of the 2G spectrum allocation and that the decision of two of the licencees offloading their additional equity through the FDI route. Now he has to answer why he allowed Raja to commit this fraud,” Jaitley said.
Responding to the charges, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Opposition was targeting the prime minister more than him. Economic Times