Two steps forward, one step back: that appears to be the Congress' way of dealing with the 2G spectrum scam.
After party spokesperson Manish Tewari vigorously supported Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal's trashing of the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG)'s report on the scam, another party spokesperson, Abhishek Singhvi, toned down the party's line on the CAG.
Mr. Singhvi — pointing out to journalists on Thursday that the CAG report was in the public domain — stressed that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was doing its job scrutinising the report, and that the government, i.e., Mr. Sibal, had also had his say.
The party was not a decision-making body, he said, and it would therefore await the PAC's findings as well as the results of the other enquiries being conducted in the 2G spectrum case. In answer to a question, he added that the Congress backed Mr. Sibal's statement.
Mr. Singhvi's muted response comes in the wake of the CAG and PAC criticising the government's attack on the CAG report.
Asked why the Congress had backed off, a party functionary said: “Mr. Tewari was our opening batsman; Mr. Singhvi is the tail-ender.”
But Mr. Sibal's remarks had initially taken even the Congress by surprise. Last Saturday, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed offered subdued support to Mr. Sibal's no-holds-barred attack on the CAG, saying, in answer to a question, that the party was neither distancing itself nor backing Mr. Sibal's remarks.
Mr. Ahmed had added that as Minister, Mr. Sibal was in the best position to respond to the CAG report, just as Murli Manohar Joshi as PAC chairperson would also be able to make an informed comment on the subject.
Curiously, later that day, senior party sources told TheHindu that there was no question of the Congress disassociating itself from Mr. Sibal's remarks, and that the latter had the Prime Minister's consent to say what he had at the press conference.
Meanwhile, there is a divided view in the party — while the majority view appears to be that Mr. Sibal's attack on the CAG was actually long overdue, and that the party needed to defend itself as it should not be forced to carry the can for former Minister A. Raja, some of the older members feel that the attack on the CAG was not “politically correct” and demonstrated a certain immaturity.