Remove Home Minister 'forthwith': BJP asks PM
Not satisfied with Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran's resignation, BJP today (July 8) demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sack then Finance Minister P Chidambaram "forthwith" for his alleged complicity in the case. "The 2-G spectrum scandal is no longer only an 'ally affair'. The revelations in the JPC, which is looking into the scandal, and those coming out in the media show that there is a Congress overtone to this," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Referring to the events around January 10, 2008 when the 2G spectrum licences were issued, she said Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was then Finance Minister, is also responsible for the government not taking the auction route and claimed this led to a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.
"On January 9, 2008, an additional secretary in the Finance Ministry had clearly suggested adoption of the auction route for spectrum usage charges. On January 15, the Finance Minister sent a note to the PM that the government adopt the auction route for future spectrum allocations and treat all allocations made in the past as a closed chapter," she said.
BJP also wondered if not keeping minutes of a May 29, 2008 meeting on the 2G issue by the government was a "deliberate procedural lapse".
"An attempt was made in that meeting by then Finance Minister to gloss over the divergent opinions, cover up the disregard to rules, regulations and procedures in the issue of licences by holding a meeting with the then Telecom Minister A Raja. "It is reported that the Prime Minister was informed of an 'agreed position' thereafter. A clear four months after the scandalous allocation of the 2G licences," Sitharaman said.
BJP demanded that the Prime Minister break his silence on this matter and issue an explanation. It further said Chidambaram's position in the Cabinet has become untenable now and he should be "removed forthwith". "The scandalous cover-up of the 2G spectrum scam started with the Finance Minister's letter of January 15, 2008," Sitharaman said.
The BJP sought to know if ignoring the advise of the additional secretary that auction route should be taken was a "deliberate omission". The Opposition maintained that in 2003, the NDA Cabinet had specified that fixing of price for the allocation of spectrum will be done in consultation with the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) and with the approval of Ministry of Finance.
"In this case, in 2008, the Ministry of Finance in a make believe fait accompli situation provided a cover up for the decision to issue licences on January 10 2008... In the 'treat as closed chapter' advice to the PM on a contentious decision which was taken just a few days before, the then Minister of Finance's connivance is palpable," Sitharaman said. She demanded a 'focused inquiry' into how there are no formal minutes or record of the May 29, 2008 meeting.