‘Allotment system in agriculture sector needs to be scrapped; committee could be formed to make major decisions'

Defending the Centre, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Friday said the Supreme Court had not indicted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or the government in the 2G spectrum scam case in its Thursday order cancelling 122 licences.

Responding to questions at a press conference here, Mr. Pawar said he had only just got a copy of the judgment and a cursory glance through the pages showed that Dr. Singh had written to the then Telecom Minister A. Raja on November 2, 2007, urging fairness and transparency in the 2G spectrum allocation.

The judges noted that the former Minister did not bother to accept the Prime Minister's suggestion on allocation. This clearly indicated that there were no strictures on the Prime Minister, and the judges felt he had done his job, Mr. Pawar said. “I don't think the blame falls on the PM,” Mr. Pawar said, in response to questions on collective responsibility and if Dr. Singh was responsible for the scam. The allocation was not a Cabinet decision but that of an individual Ministry, he said, adding that the government would require some time to apply its mind after the order.

Following the court order, Mr. Pawar felt, the allotment system in the agro sector needed to be scrapped and a committee could be appointed for major decisions. The verdict also indicated that the government had to take a cautious approach before taking any decisions which, on the flipside, might delay the process, he said.

Both internationally and nationally, within the investor community, the order would be debated and the possibility of repercussions on investments could not be ruled out, Mr. Pawar said.

The Minister admitted that a wrong decision indeed brought disrepute to the government. Asked about the impact of the latest judgment on the ongoing Assembly elections, he said the situation appeared to be in favour of the Congress in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. If the Samajwadi Party came on top, a government could be formed with the Congress and Ajit Singh's party (Rashtriya Lok Dal), he said. In Manipur and Goa, where the Nationalist Congress Party was contesting, there would be no impact. He said the UPA constituents would increase its numbers in these elections.

However, he cautioned that the public could not be predicted so easily. “They are smarter than us.”

‘Substantiate charges'

Regarding the allegations of corruption against Ministers in the NCP, Mr. Pawar sought proof to back up the claims. Assailing the press for injudicious reportage, Mr. Pawar said that while he was all for democratic freedom, there must be some decorum and limit. Regarding allegations against the former Union Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, Mr. Pawar said he had read the article in a Canadian daily, which had mentioned that there was no evidence to support the allegations. In addition, Mr. Patel had also written to the Prime Minister on the issue, and the deal, which was mentioned in the paper, did not come through in any case.

Mr. Pawar said he had contested 14 elections and people had supported him but he would not contest the 2014 general elections. That did not mean he was moving out of public life. He was giving advance notice of his intentions to prepare the ground for another competent contestant. To a question whether he was keen on the Rajya Sabha, he said the party would decide.

Addressing the press earlier, Mr. Pawar appealed to his party members to desist from mudslinging. In the background of a war of words between State Industries Minister Narayan Rane and the Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Mr. Sharad Pawar called on the NCP to work unitedly to ensure victory in the elections to 10 municipal corporations, 27 nagar parishads and over 300 panchayat samitis in the State. After all the Congress and NCP, even if they were contesting against each other in some places, were still running the government.

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