Clutching onto the statement of the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who was the Finance Minister when telecom licences were granted in early 2008.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said at a news conference here that after the “disclosure” by Mr. Raja before a CBI special judge on the purported knowledge of Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram on the decisions taken by him, they have lost the “legal, political and moral” locus standi to continue in office “even for a minute.”

Though the BJP has been targeting Mr. Chidambaram on the 2G spectrum scam for several weeks now, it is for the first time it has directly attacked Dr. Singh. The fact that Mr. Gadkari chose to hold a hurriedly convened press meet indicates that the BJP smelled an opportunity to corner the government and perhaps divert attention from its growing unease over the developments in Karnataka.

The BJP president charged the Congress with making its alliance partner, the DMK, a “scapegoat” in the 2G case and maintained that whether it was the Commonwealth Games or the 2G, there was no way decisions could be made without the knowledge and clearance of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister.

Meeting with CBI chief

Mr. Gadkari reminded that recently a BJP delegation had met the CBI Director and submitted a memorandum seeking a probe into the role of Mr. Chidambaram in the 2G scam. “Our representation was based on documentary evidence,” he said.

The thrust of his argument was that Mr. Chidambaram had overruled the recommendation of the Finance Ministry for auction of the 2G spectrum and paved the way for allocation of telecom licences to select group of companies in January 2008. The BJP chief said that as per the 2003 policy of the NDA government, the spectrum price had to be determined by the Telecom Ministry in consultation with and approval of the Finance Ministry.

Asked about the statement made by Mr. Raja in the court that he only followed the policy approved in 2003, Mr. Gadkari said the government was free to investigate the subject from whichever year it desires.

“We have no objection to investigation beginning with either 2003 or 1947.”

Recalling his earlier remark, which provoked a strong reaction from Congress, he reiterated that to believe the statement of Congress president Sonia Gandhi that her party would punish any one found guilty of corruption was to go by the “commitment” of Pakistan stating that it was committed to fight corruption.

“My comment did not go down well with the Congress, but today I stand vindicated. Let Ms. Gandhi explain what action she proposes to take against the guilty in the 2G spectrum scam,” Mr. Gadkari said.

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