The story that Mr. Raja misled the PM does not hold good: Dasgupta

Many members of the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), representing Opposition parties, have questioned why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram were let off the hook for the alleged irregularity in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences, whereas the then Communications Minister A. Raja, was made responsible for the whole affair.

The members of the BJP, the CPI, the CPI (M), the DMK, the AIADMK, the BJD and the Trinamool Congress, gave their dissent notes, which were appended to the main report of the JPC when it was presented to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday. The six-member BJP in the JPC has given a single joint dissent note.

The BJP members — Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Gopinath Munde, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harin Pathak and Dharmendra Pradhan — in their note said: “It is regretted that in spite of voluminous evidence on record before the Committee, the final report chose not to fix responsibility of the PM, the PMO, the Finance Minister (P. Chidambaram) and many others. Our note of dissent is designed to ensure that the political accountability of this massive scam is clearly determined and fixed against all the guilty so that it serves as a lesson for the future.”

T.R. Baalu (DMK), in his note, said the JPC had not proceeded in the manner it was required and expected to. “It is noteworthy that despite the erroneous manner in which the JPC proceeded ..at least it has been able to draw a correct conclusion on the issue.”

M. Thambidurai (AIADMK), who rejected the JPC’s final report, said “this kind of ..functioning to collapse the JPC to cover-up the crimes would be ultimately questioned by the people..such truth cannot be suppressed for a long time.”

“The JPC’s ..action has forced the people to lose their faith in the probes by a parliamentary system, where things were ultimately decided on political lines,” he alleged.

CPI member Gurudas Dasgupta said if the PM was misled by Mr. Raja then why the PMO made a detailed examination of the letter written by Mr. Raja about his intent? “How is that the Secretary to the PM and the Principal Secretary to the PM recorded copious notes on the 6 and 7 January 2008 only days short of issue of licences [for 2G Spectrum] in bulk by Mr. Raja.”

“The inescapable conclusion is that the PM cannot be absolved of the serious charge of dereliction of duty. He had only pretended to remain at arm’s length because he preferred remaining in office as a matter of greater [importance] than acting decisively to prevent irregularity that had caused dastardly damage to the country financially and politically to the government.”

Mr. Dasgupta went on to add that “he [PM] must have believed that if he had taken pre-emptive action the boat should have been rocked, the government would have collapsed. Therefore the story that Mr. Raja misled the PM does not hold good.”

CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury attacked Finance Minister P. Chidambaram by stating that “…despite the LoIs (letters of intent) having been illegally allocated in January 2008, the FM was likely aware, being one of the most eminent lawyers of the country, that the LoIs could be cancelled before the formal grant of licences. Yet, he failed to take any action.”

It was the duty of the FM to ensure that his Ministry provided an input into the pricing of spectrum, given the financial and revenue implications for the government of India, Mr. Yechury said.

BJD representative Arjun Charan Sethi, in his dissent note, said Mr. Chacko had failed to call all the parties concerned to appear before the Committee for collection of information.

Kalyan Banerjee (Trinamool) said the Committee’s final report was perverse since valuable evidence that came before it was not at all considered. “The report speaks itself but important personalities like the PM, FM etc. have [been] kept untouched. The essential documents were not given to the members of the Committee,” he alleged.

JPC Chairman P.C. Chacko said some of the words or sentences, which he considered unparliamentary, had cast aspersions, inappropriate or irrelevant were expunged from the dissent notes strictly going by the parliamentary rules and procedures. The members concerned were informed of the expunctions, he said.

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