Refutes Swamy's accusations against Home Minister in 2G issue
In a bid to counter the Opposition's demand for P. Chidambaram's scalp for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam during his tenure as Finance Minister, the government fielded Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday to officially defend the Union Home Minister. “P. Chidambaram is a valued colleague and has discharged his responsibilities without fear or favour and with absolute integrity and devotion,” he said.
The government was willing to cooperate with the Opposition to ensure that all issues of importance were discussed in accordance with the rules in Parliament, Mr. Sibal said, stressing that “The Opposition must also cooperate with the government in ensuring that the government business is transacted and crucial legislation are passed.”
Vigorously refuting accusations levelled by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy that Mr. Chidambaram as Finance Minister had played a role in fixing the entry fee at Rs. 1,650 crores for new players and hence should be prosecuted in the spectrum scam, Mr. Sibal, providing a chronological account of all that had transpired, said, “It is preposterous to suggest that Mr. Chidambaram had any role in fixing the entry fee or issuing the Letters of Intent.”
Mr. Chidambaram, he said, had in fact recommended an increase in entry fee, something that was not agreed to by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja, who had issued LoIs on January 10, 2008, without the former's knowledge. “There was no meeting between the then Finance Minister [Chidambaram] and A. Raja prior to January 10, 2008 on this issue,” he said.
The CBI had found nothing wrong with Mr. Chidambaram's conduct during his tenure as Finance Minister and , therefore, “any attempt by the Opposition to foist any culpability on Mr. Chidambaram is not only irresponsible but is yet another desperate attempt to make the institution of parliamentary democracy dysfunctional.”
Before the winter session, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had announced it would boycott Mr. Chidambaram in Parliament: on Thursday, they picked the CBI special court order passed that morning permitting Dr. Swamy to testify and present his case against the Home Minister in the 2G scam case on December 19.
On Saturday, Mr. Sibal rubbished media reports that had suggested that this was an indictment of Mr. Chidambaram: he pointed out that when a complainant goes to a court of law under Section 200 of the CrPc, the magistrate is bound to — he has no discretion on this matter — to record his statement, as well as of any witnesses the complainant may choose to bring. It is only after that happens, that the magistrate decides whether to hold an enquiry, order an investigation or simply drop the case.
However, when Mr. Sibal was asked about the Finance Ministry's inter-ministerial background note on the 2 G scam that was written earlier this year and which had suggested that had Mr. Chidambaram put his foot down, the scam need not have taken place, he said, “The clarification given by the government on that has been accepted by Mr. Chidambaram.” Mr. Sibal was referring to the explanation that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was forced to give publicly after the publication of the note had created the impression of a government at war with itself. Mr. Mukherjee had said, in the presence of Mr. Chidambaram, that the “inferences and interpretations” in the note did not reflect his views.