Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Friday denied media reports and said there were no differences between his Bharatiya Janata Party and alliance partner Janata Dal (United).
Replying to media questions here on the reported tiff with JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over the BJP projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Jaitley said: “Mr. Modi is one of our popular leaders and the party is proud of that. However, we cannot react to media reports as we are a structured party. We will react only when the party formally takes a stand on the issue [PM candidate].”
The BJP would announce the candidate immediately after a decision was taken.
Asked whether the BJP would sacrifice Mr. Modi as its candidate to get more allies, he said, “The party is interested in gaining, not in sacrificing.”
To a query on the possibility of a third front emerging, he said it was a failed idea and experiments of the kind were made earlier. “It has been a few months’ wonder.”
It was an era of coalitions and the anchor of a coalition had to be a major national party, not a party that got 20-30 seats. The country’s political history did not support inspire the idea of a third front.
Reacting sharply to the clean chit given by the Joint Parliamentary Committee to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, Mr. Jaitley alleged that the Congress was “using the JPC to cover the truth.” The former Telecom Minister, A. Raja’s correspondence with the Prime Minister made it amply clear that Dr. Singh and P. Chidambaram, as the then Finance Minister, were “fully in the loop” and knew what Mr. Raja was doing.
Expressing dissatisfaction over “authors of the draft report” leaking the report to media instead of presenting it to members, he said JPC members would be hauled up for breach of privilege. “The entire country knows that 2G is a monumental scam.”
If the JPC considered Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram innocent, he was afraid, the JPC report would meet the same fate as the report on Bofors. The JPC under B. Shankaranand came out with a fictional report, describing bribes in the gun deal as winding-up charges, because middlemen and agents were asked to wind up their business. Nobody believed what the JPC said about Bofors and its report was trashed. “It is a scar on the country’s parliamentary democracy.”
Noting that history repeats itself, once as tragedy and again as farce, Mr. Jaitley said it was the second time in the history of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance government, which were neck-deep in corruption, that the party subverted the truth using the JPC mechanism.
Earlier, Mr. Jaitley released the BJP manifesto for the Karnataka Assembly election.