‘Subbarao earlier reportedly told PAC he was under pressure in 2G matter’
The UPA government has been maintaining — in Parliament, courts and to the media — that it only followed the existing policy. Referring to the Cabinet decision of 2003 and Transaction of Business Rules of 1961, when Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) member and Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta questioned, “Don’t you think government decision should not be violated?” Dr. Subbarao is learnt to have conceded that it should be consistent.
Both the 2003 Cabinet decision and the 1961 Rules make it mandatory for any Ministry to discuss and concur with the Finance Ministry in matters of large revenue and expenditure.
Asked why despite several meetings between then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and then Telecom Minister A. Raja, there is a record of only one meeting — and that too, in the form of a non-paper — Dr. Subbarao admitted: “It was inappropriate. I would even call it unfortunate”.
While admitting to his own failure to discharge his duties appropriately in the 2G case, he said there was no pressure on him to overlook the DoT’s procedural irregularities in the 2G matter.
To this, Mr. Dasgupta pointed out that Dr. Subbarao was contradicting himself since he had reported to have admitted to being under pressure in the 2G matter to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The JPC meetings have been becoming increasingly contentious, with the BJP walking out of the proceedings for the second time over failed demands that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Chidambaram be immediately brought in as witnesses.
It is learnt that the BJP wanted to finalise the final list of witnesses right at the start of the meeting. However, matters went out of hand when JPC Chairman and Congress leader P.C. Chacko said the panel would first question Dr. Subbarao.
Demands for the inclusion of the PM and Mr. Chidambaram as witnesses in the JPC have met with persistent resistance from the Congress members. Confrontation over the issue reached a head in the last meeting on August 21 and BJP members are now firmly of the view that it is futile to continue with the JPC as it is “no longer an instrument to uncover the truth.”
Responding to reports that the BJP may exit the JPC altogether, Mr. Dasgupta told The Hindu that he hoped the party would return.
“We should work on a dissent note together, which is the best way to indict the government and that too, on record,” he told The Hindu.
According to Mr. Dasgupta, much ground has been covered by the questioning of the former DoT secretary, S. Behura, and Dr. Subbarao, and it would be fruitful to obtain more evidence from other key witnesses such as Attorney General G. Vahanvati, the DoT, Law and Cabinet Secretaries and key PMO officials.