Congress trying to scuttle committee as it did with PAC

A day after walking out of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) that is examining the telecom policy from 1998 to 2009, the Bharatiya Janata Party has given indications that its members could quit the panel if their demand for summoning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was not met.

At a news conference here, senior leader Yashwant Sinha, who is part of the JPC, charged the Congress with attempting to scuttle the JPC as it did with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Mr. Sinha explained in detail the factors that compelled his party members to walk out of the JPC meeting on Wednesday.

Mr. Sinha said the party would wait for a “response” from JPC chairman P.C. Chacko before taking the next step. “One thing we are absolutely clear is that there could be no compromise on our demand for summoning Dr. Singh and Mr. Chidambaram as witnesses.”

He argued that substantial evidence was available in the public domain in the form of letters written by Dr. Singh to the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, on grant of 2G licences and action thereafter.

He pointed out that Dr. Singh had stated in Parliament that when Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Raja reached a common understanding on spectrum pricing, he had to accept it. “The note of the Ministry of Finance of March 25, 2011, which the then FM had seen and which is already in the public domain, raises a number of issues on which clarifications can be given only by the FM.”

Mr. Sinha said only the Finance Minister could clarify why he finally abandoned the position he and his Ministry had taken with regard to revision of the entry fee, the auction of spectrum up to and beyond 4.4. MHz and accepting all the recommendations of Mr. Raja at the meeting with Dr. Singh on July 4, 2008.

“Similarly, only the PM can clarify why the policies formulated by the Cabinet on 31st October, 2003, for Unified Licence were not followed up and why he allowed A. Raja to have his way. There are scores of other questions which we would like to ask Mr. Raja, Mr. [Dayanidhi] Maran, Mr. Chidambaram and Dr. Singh and no enquiry could be complete without questioning these gentle men.”

Mr. Sinha said the JPC had, till date, examined 22 witnesses at 44 sittings since March 2011, whereas the PAC, which examined the CAG report, successfully examined 22 witnesses at 18 sittings over just eight months.

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