Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that as auctions had not taken place in regard to the spectrum, calculating the loss was difficult. Addressing the nation via a televised media interaction, he went on to compare the (underpriced) sale of 2G spectrum with the subsidies given for food and fertilizers etc, asking whether these subsidies should also be described as loss of revenue.
The Prime Minister also vigorously rejected any suggestion that his office had continued talks with Devas Multimedia — on its controversial deal with Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm, for the lease of 90 per cent transponders in two satellites to be built by ISRO, a deal into which was bundled 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum, priced at Rs.1,000 crore — after the Space Commission decided to scrap the deal.
“There have been no backroom talks...there has been no effort in the PMO [Prime Minister's Office] to dilute in any way the decision taken by the Space Commission in July 2010,” he said. However, he did admit that there had been a delay in scrapping the deal, but said this had been “only procedural.”
Dismissing a question whether he would be the Congress' prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections as “premature,” Dr. Singh, however, stressed that he would complete his term in office.
Asked to comment on the attacks on him from within the party, he said: “I would, of course, like a cohesive party to back the government,” adding: “I think we are a democratic party and we have a lot of internal discussions. When decisions are taken, I think our party stands united in support of the government.”
Accusing the BJP of obstructing economic reforms for petty reasons, the Prime Minister pointed out that the BJP had “taken a hostile attitude [to the Goods and Services Tax] because of a decision against a particular person, who was a minister in Gujarat.” The reference was to Amit Shah, who was arrested in the Sohrabuddin case by the CBI.
Dr. Singh said he had not given up on his job while underscoring the fact that Parliament was not able to perform its essential function of passing laws.