Opposition parties on Saturday slammed as bizarre, flawed and a cover-up exercise Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal’s stand that there was no loss at all on account of the controversial 2G spectrum allocation after debunking CAG estimates of a Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss.
The Opposition leaders including PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi also hit out at Mr. Sibal for his strident criticism of the CAG saying it was highly objectionable and alleged his stand was an attempt designed to save the former Telecom minister A. Raja, who had to resign in the wake of the 2G scam, and other beneficiaries.
Congress on its part defended Mr. Sibal from the opposition attack saying it found nothing wrong in his criticism of the government auditor and that any MP or minister can raise a question mark on a CAG report based on the findings.
Read the report carefully: Joshi
Mr. Joshi, a senior BJP leader, said Mr. Sibal’s stand was “improper” and demonstrated his “very casual” approach.
“In my opinion, it is highly improper. The CAG has never said that it is the exact amount. Mr. Sibal should have read the report carefully,” Mr. Joshi said here while reacting to the Telecom Minister’s contention that the presumptive losses projected by the CAG was “erroneous."
Mr. Sibal’s attack on CAG showed that “he has been very casual and ill beholds of the Minister to talk ill of the CAG.
Attempt to shield Raja
Terming as ‘bizzare’ Mr. Sibal’s stand, CPI(M) said it appeared to be “a cover up exercise” to shield the beneficiaries of the scam.
CPI(M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury described Mr. Sibal’s argument that the CAG methodology on presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore was erroneous as “flawed”.
“It appeared to be a cover up exercise to shield those who had benefitted,” Mr. Yechury said in Bangalore.
Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told PTI, “CAG report is for scrutiny. Any MP or minister can raise question mark on CAG report based on the latter’s findings. If Mr. Sibal has said something based on documents, we do not think it is wrong on his part.”
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad reacted sharply to the Telecom Minister’s statements, saying, “Sibal’s unwarranted comments have sought to over-reach parliamentary process when the PAC is looking into it.”
“It is a frontal attack on CAG, designed to save (former Telecom Minister) A Raja,” he told reporters in Guwahati.
In a statement, CPI(M) said Mr. Sibal’s statement on the issue was “clearly meant to protect the ill-gotten gains” made by corporates who got the licenses at throwaway prices.
“It is clear from Sibal’s defence that the UPA Government is far more deeply involved than just the lone acts of A Raja”, the CPI(M) Politburo said, adding that his “bizarre defence” of the 2G spectrum allocation once again underlined the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) to investigate the issue.
The Minister’s statement was “clearly meant to protect the ill-gotten gains that the corporate houses have made by securing 2G license and spectrum at throw-away prices. This is the reason why Mr. Sibal is attacking the CAG report”.