At the outset I would like to clarify — as the story mentioned — that the PMO was sent an email with detailed questions on Sunday afternoon but did not respond till the time of going to press.
The PMO’s response above questions the use of the term “new evidence” and claims “factual inaccuracies” in the two stories. It offers no defence to the detailed presentation in the article which includes “new evidence” such as the “comparative chart” prepared by Mr. Pulok Chatterji, which reveals complete agreement within the PMO with Mr. Raja’s illegal intentions — as subsequently charged by the CBI — to modify ‘first-come-first-served,’ which led to the 2G scam.
Most of the response is lifted from an old PMO press release or from statements made by the Prime Minister in an entirely different context. The response, in fact, confirms the fact that the PMO agreed with Mr. Raja’s illegal intentions to follow modified first-come-first-served without holding auctions. Its reiteration of “allocation of threshold spectrum on payment of normal fees” — implying no revision of entry fee — is part of the crime for which Mr. Raja has already spent time in jail.
The statement by the Prime Minister in Parliament that he acted after the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram and Telecom Minister A. Raja “worked out an agreed formula” which was reported to him in a meeting on July 4, 2008, stands contested by none other than Mr. Chidambaram himself, who wrote to The Hindu on February 14, 2012, that “There was never any ‘agreement’ between Minister C&IT and me not to revise the entry fee. On the contrary, a decision was taken by government by a high level meeting on 4.7.2008, to revise and update the entry fee.”
The government’s press release of December 10, 2011, also contradicts the PM about Mr. Chidambaram’s role. Both the PM and the Finance Minister cannot be right on this point. They stand contradicted by each other’s statements — one in the Parliament and the second to The Hindu.
The Prime Minister’s explanation in the Lok Sabha that the decision to not go for auctions had the “support from TRAI” stands contested by the CBI chargesheet of April 2, 2011, page 59 (section IX), filed two months after the PM’s statement in February 2011.
The Prime Minister’s second claim in the Lok Sabha that “he felt that for a level playing field that it was entirely appropriate that we should continue in the path we had followed till 2007,” was rejected by the Supreme Court vide its judgment of February 2, 2012, cancelling the 122 licences. Ruling on the issue of not raising the entry fee to ensure a level playing field — an argument made by TRAI, and repeated by the PM — the Supreme Court has held, “We do not find merit in the reasoning of the TRAI that the consideration of maintaining a level playing field prevented a realistic reassessment of entry fee.” It ruled the actions supposedly taken on behalf of a level playing field to be, “wholly arbitrary, capricious and contrary to public interest, apart from being violative of doctrine of equality”.
In sum, my stories show the agreement between the PMO and Mr. Raja — a claim that stands uncontested in the PMO response.