Swamy looking for political space, not justice: Sibal
More than 72 hours after the Supreme Court made its observations about the Prime Minister delaying prosecution of the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, and a day after television channels tried to implicate Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum case, Congress and government managers — and the Gandhi family — finally got their act together.
Even as the government fielded the new Telecom Minister, Kapil Sibal, to defend the Prime Minister, which he did vigorously, Congress Media Chairperson Janardan Dwivedi denounced those attacking Dr. Singh as being “scared of the stature of the PM and the strength of the Congress.”
Simultaneously, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, too, defended him. “I don't think the Prime Minister is in an embarrassing position. He has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Gandhi said in response to a question.
One explanation for the delay in publicly and vigorously shielding the Prime Minister from the barrage of criticism came from Congress sources: they said the party and the government had miscalculated in thinking that the opposition would dry up by November 18, when the campaign for the Bihar elections ended.
Another senior party leader faulted the decision to sack Mr. Raja so soon — before the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor-General's Report had been deliberated upon by the Public Accounts Committee and a full-fledged discussion in Parliament on the action suggested by the PAC. His view was that dropping the Minister had not appeased the Opposition as it continued to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee: on the other hand, this action had succeeded in removing a buffer, placing the Prime Minister in the direct line of Opposition fire.
There was also a private admission on Friday that there had been mismanagement and “bungling” in dealing with the entire 2G spectrum issue, which rendered Dr. Singh open to attack.
Mr. Sibal, imploring journalists not to “pillory” the Prime Minister, whose integrity was never in doubt, stressed that Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy had written to the Prime Minister about Mr. Raja, motivated not by a desire to see justice done but to gain “political mileage.”
“Dr. Swamy is looking for political space, not justice,” Mr Sibal said.
The Prime Minister would have been justified, the Minister said, had he thrown his letters into the wastepaper basket, as it was legally untenable to sanction prosecution on the basis of a private complaint — there was a laid down legal procedure for investigation and prosecution, he said, one which Dr. Swamy could have adopted had he been serious.
“But, being a sensitive man, the Prime Minister responded to these letters,” Mr. Sibal said, adding that as each fresh letter from Dr. Swamy brought a fresh bunch of accusatory news reports against Mr. Raja, the matter had to be looked at afresh each time. He also pointed out that a CBI investigation was on.