Blames Raja; exonerates PM, Chidambaram

As expected, the draft report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on 2G spectrum allocation sailed through at the Committee’s meeting here on Friday.

The report exonerated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of any wrongdoing and blamed the then Communications Minister and DMK MP, A. Raja, for being solely responsible for the controversial spectrum allocation. Mr. Raja was accused of “misleading” the PM and “belying” the assurances given to him.

According to JPC Chairman and Congress MP from Thrissur, P.C. Chacko, the report was adopted by the 30-member Committee with 16 members in support and 11 opposing it. Two members — both from the Janata Dal (United) — abstained from voting, while BJP’s Gopinath Munde did not turn up for the meeting.

As usual, two members belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party and one member from the Samajwadi Party, came to the UPA’s rescue by supporting the report and ensuring its passage.

Informed sources said that members opposing the report have time till October 10 to give their dissent note. The dissent notes will be carefully examined to ensure that they are in order as per Parliament rules and that no aspersion is cast against individuals. Then the notes will be appended to the main report and presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. The Committee will not meet thereafter.

The Speaker will then forward it to the government/Communications Ministry for printing and attaching the action taken report, if any, by the government. The combined report will be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.

The JPC’s report rubbished the loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG), saying it was “ill-conceived.”

As the Committee was asked to look into the telecom policies of the NDA and UPA governments and allocation of spectrum between 1998 and 2008, the final report blamed the decision taken by the then NDA government to grant concessions to telecom operators over non-recovery of “huge amount” of licence fee despite opposition by the then Telecom Minister Jagmohan.

The report said the NDA government had to “forego” revenue to the tune of Rs.42,080.34 crore while offering Migration Package to cellular operators.

DMK parliamentary party leader and JPC member T.R. Baalu said the Committee had adopted a “half-baked report” as his request for examining Mr. Raja and other Department of Telecom officials was turned down.Some documents of DoT were also not circulated. The DMK, he said, would submit a dissent note within a week.

Strongly protesting the JPC’s move to adopt the report,Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), in a letter to Mr. Chacko, said the role of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister was not identified. The involvement of the Ministry of Finance was never sought to be looked into. “The failure of Cabinet Secretary to draw the attention of the PM when the rules were being violated by Mr. Raja was not discussed.” he said. He too said that he would give a dissent note.

CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury has already submitted a dissent note.

The former Finance Minister, Yashwant Sinha (BJP), said a contrived majority had been “unashamedly” used to adopt a report based on “wrong facts, falsehood and prejudicial” findings without the consideration of the Committee.

Meanwhile, AIADMK parliamentary party leader and JPC member M. Thambidurai said he too had given a dissent note on Friday. He described the report as nothing but a drama staged by the Congress and the DMK to protect interests of both the parties and the family members of DMK president M. Karunanidhi. He wondered why the Committee did not consider the report of the one man enquiry committee on 2G Spectrum allocation issue, headed by Justice Shivraj Patil, which spoke in detail about corruption in the allocation of Spectrum.

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