Insecurity, unreasonableness, and stubbornness tend to go hand in hand. Why else should the Congress-led government be dead set against allowing a Joint Parliamentary Committee to try and get to the bottom of the 2G spectrum scandal? With the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India exposing serious irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum, resulting in staggering losses to the exchequer, getting to the truth of what happened has become a moral imperative. While the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee will study the CAG report, this is no alternative to an empowered JPC that can call for all relevant records and summon Ministers, including the Prime Minister, for examination during the course of its enquiry. Moreover, it can probe the scandal in historical perspective — against the backdrop of telecom policy as it evolved, with twists and turns and sometimes carrying the stench of corruption, over a decade and a half. The government's negative response suggests a cover-up. As is evident from the observations of the Supreme Court in the spectrum case, the Central Bureau of Investigation is not doing an earnest job of investigating the matter. Nor will an inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission carry conviction; the Supreme Court has questioned the appointment as Central Vigilance Commissioner of P.J. Thomas, who served as Telecommunications Secretary during the period of the scam and has a charge sheet pending against him. If, as the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam insist, A. Raja as Communications Minister only followed the 2G spectrum allocation policy set by BJP-led National Democratic Alliance regimes, it is all the more important for a JPC to go back to the formulation of the National Telecom Policy, 1994 and enquire into everything of material relevance from then on.

An empowered and well-staffed JPC has also become a political imperative. The United Progressive Alliance government faces a crisis of credibility; Parliament has been rendered dysfunctional; and the image of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a leader with a clean personal reputation, has taken a beating. If a JPC can work sincerely and in a businesslike way — on a day-to-day basis, more or less — all significant facts relating to the 2G spectrum allocation affair can be placed before the people of India within the next two months. It bears recall that even the JPC set up to enquire into the Bofors scandal, which had nothing but cover-up on its mind and was boycotted by the Opposition, brought into the public domain a mass of information that proved invaluable to The Hindu's investigation. That the BJP-led government in 2001 did not concede the demand for a JPC into the Tehelka exposé can be no justification in the present situation. The questions involved in the 2G scam are far too serious to be allowed to become part of political tit for tat.

Keywords: 2G Spectrum

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