Unable to get the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) constituted during the Parliament session to probe the alleged scam in the 2G spectrum allocation, the National Democratic Alliance brought its agitation to the public domain on Wednesday through the Mahasangram rally organised at the historical Ramlila Maidan here.
Addressing the well-attended rally, NDA working chairperson and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to honour his post and concede the Opposition's demand for a JPC probe. “[The government] not accepting the [demand for] JPC is a big reason for this rally, and I once again appeal to him to accept the demand.” Or else, he said, 2010 would be remembered as “the year of stinking scams.”
Mr. Advani said similar rallies would be held in Guwahati, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Chennai, Kanpur, Rohtak, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Ludhiana before the budget session of Parliament.
“In the first week of February, we would also like the village, block and district committees of all NDA constituents to organise meetings in villages and interior [areas], so that the whole country is made aware of the issue.”
NDA convener Sharad Yadav said the UPA government, now cornered on the issue of corruption, was demanding that the probe into the spectrum allocation cover the period from 2001. “We are even open to investigating everything from 1947 onwards as long as that brings the culprits to book. It is not we but the Comptroller and Auditor-General that pointed out that there was a loss of Rs.1.76-lakh crore to the government owing to the 2G scam.”
Mr. Yadav said the UPA government did not care for the poor and the needy and ignored the Supreme Court's directive to distribute foodgrain to the poor free of cost instead of allowing it to rot in godowns. It wasted crores of rupees on sprucing up neat areas, while development in the “real Delhi” was ignored in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari said that while the money involved in the spectrum scam accounted for about three per cent of the GDP, the recent counter-allegations by the Congress leaders made at the party plenary amounted to chor machaye shor [the thief raising the alarm].”
He criticised UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for trying to deflect criticism over the scams. “The Congress is involved in corruption, and you say you had no role and no responsibility.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that while the Prime Minister took cover under the pretext of not being directly involved in any of the scams, “his involvement” in the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner “was not passive but active.” “There were only three persons who were to select the candidate from a panel of names. Though I opposed the selection of the present CVC as he had a criminal case against him, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister went ahead with the decision, despite my written dissent.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said: “You [the Prime Minister] should form the JPC, answer our questions and if you cannot answer our questions, step down from your post on moral grounds,” He questioned at whose instance A. Raja was put in charge of the Telecom Department, and why did Dr. Singh look the other way when the scam took place. Ratan Singh Ajnala of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Anant Geete of the Shiv Sena spoke.