2G Scam: Tihar gets ready to receive Chidambaram, Maran , and maybe even … – Media Reports

Chidambaram should be in jail with Raja: BJP – Times of India

NEW DELHI, Sept. 24, 2011: Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday said home minister P Chidambaram should be in jail for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam.

Yashwant Sinha“The proof against Chidambaram is overwhelming. He should be in jail with A Raja,” BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters here.

He also said the prime minister acted on Chidambaram’s advice on the 2G spectrum allocation, and his silence showed his approval.

Chidambaram was the finance minister at the time the spectrum was allocated in 2008.

The opposition’s demands come after Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday submitted to the Supreme Court documents indicating that Chidambaram was involved in deciding the 2G spectrum price along with jailed former communications minister A Raja.

The documents filed by Swamy include a communication of Jan 30, 2008, by the department of economic affairs of the finance ministry recording the gist of a meeting between Chidambaram and Raja.

Dayanidhi Maran's to letter Manmohan Singh

DNA Exclusive! Maran letter puts PM in the 2G spectrum – by Saikat Datta – DNA

In 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved, in principle, a Group of Ministers to look into the release of additional spectrum and pricing of the scarce 2G spectrum. That changed after he met then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran on February 1, 2006.

Maran’s letter asked the PM to dilute the terms of reference and ensure that the issue of pricing of spectrum would remain with the telecom ministry.

Manmohan SinghDid Manmohan Singh play a role in diluting the terms of reference of the Group of Ministers, leading to the loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum in January 2008?

Documents obtained under the Right to Information Act by advocate and RTI activist Vivek Garg and made available to DNA show that the prime minister was part of the decision that ensured that the pricing of 2G spectrum would be the telecom ministry’s preserve.

The decision helped telecom minister A Raja to manipulate the pricing of spectrum, leading to India’s biggest scam.

In January 2006, Singh had approved, in principle, a GoM to look into the release of additional spectrum from the defence ministry for private telecom players. The group’s terms of reference were quite exhaustive and included the issue of pricing of scarce 2G spectrum.

Dayanidhi MaranThe GoM was to submit its recommendations by the last week of June 2006, following which the government would decide a policy and price for selling the spectrum. But all that changed after Singh met the then telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran on February 1.

A letter written by Maran, a copy of which is available with DNA, urged the PM to dilute the terms of reference and ensure that the issue of pricing would not be with the GoM. The demi-official letter dated February 28, 2006, (DO No L-14047/01/06-NTG) and marked ‘secret’ is a critical document in the 2G scam.

Maran asked the PM to ‘kindly recall’ their meeting on February 1 when they had ‘discussed the issue of the GoM relating to the vacation of spectrum by the defence.’

He said: ‘You had kindly assured me that the terms of reference of the GoM would be drawn up exactly the way we wanted, which was to focus only on the issue of vacation of spectrum.’

A closer reading of the letter shows Maran’s objection to the inclusion of spectrum price in the mandate of the GoM. ‘I am, however, surprised to note that the GoM as constituted has much wider Terms of Reference,’ some of which, he argued, ‘impinge upon the work normally carried out by the ministry.’ Meaning the GoM should look at a diluted agenda and not consider the pricing issue.

Maran went a step further and urged the PM to ‘modify the Terms of Reference as suggested by us, which are enclosed.’ While the original terms of reference, a copy of which is available with DNA, had listed six issues, including pricing of spectrum, Maran sent across five points, all of them dealing with the defence ministry vacating additional spectrum. Once it was vacated, he would be the sole arbiter of the price at which the spectrum would be allocated.

What did the PM do? He just sent across a bland letter to Maran acknowledging receipt of his letter seeking critical dilution of the GoM’s mandate.

Subsequently, the GoM’s mandate was diluted and it looked only at the release of spectrum by the defence ministry. On December 7, 2006, the cabinet secretariat issued the revised terms of reference, deleting the issue of spectrum pricing.

A. RajaThe PM’s tacit nod to a crucial coalition partner’s demand set the stage for Raja when he took over as telecom minister from his party colleague Maran. When the allocation of spectrum licences began, Raja used the PM’s nod to ensure that he would decide the price and give it out at a measly Rs1,600 crore on a first-come-first-served basis, causing a loss estimated at Rs1.76 lakh crore.

In going along with Maran’s demand, the PM also ignored a rule that has governed the functioning of government since 1961. The Transaction of Business Rules 1961 clearly prescribes ‘mandatory consultation with the ministry of finance as a pre-condition in respect of all issues which have financial implications.’ So, the allocation of spectrum had a clear mandate for consultation with the finance ministry headed then by P Chidambaram.

The note ‘seen by’ current finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has already established beyond doubt that Chidambaram failed to act. But now, it seems, the PM also helped to dilute the GoM that allowed Raja to step in and make a killing.

The PM had told a group of editors earlier this year that many of the decisions taken by his government flowed from ‘coalition dharma.’

Ideally, a source told DNA, the PM should also have been questioned by the CBI investigating the 2G scam. But with Singh holding charge of the CBI, would the agency have taken on its boss?

Chidambaram ticked off PM with raising voice over 2G issue in media – DNA

With his repeated assertions in the media that he was in favour of taking the auction route for the allocation of the 2G spectrum in his avatar as finance minister, P Chidambaram, it seems, irked prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Chidambaram & Mukherjee“He was intent upon creating an impression that he had left the decision to the prime minister, and thus no blame could be laid at his doorsteps,” a top source in the government told DNA.

Though the genesis of the controversial 2G note from the finance ministry is attributed to an RTI query, it is pointed out that there was no such need to do answer it. “The RTI query could have been ducked by using the provision that no details need be submitted in response to an RTI when an investigation is underway,” the source observed.

Under these circumstances, the detailed note of the finance ministry as approved by Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is seen as an attempt to set the record straight vis-a-vis Chidambaram’s assertions that he was for the auction route.

The other purpose served by this note is that it absolves the prime minister of any responsibility in the process of spectrum price fixing.

It is also pointed out that as finance minister, Chidambaram was merely paying lip service to the auction route, and if he really had any serious differences with the then telecom minister, A Raja, he would have taken the issue to the Cabinet — the highest policy making forum —and not have rest content with merely writing to the prime minister about it.

Subbarao kept Chidambaram in the loop – J. Gopikrishnan – The Pioneer

The UPA Government and the Congress may be defending Home Minister P Chidambaram against charges of complicity in the 2G scam, but former Finance Secretary D Subbarao’s deposition before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on February 3, 2011, clearly shows that he had “fairly and regularly” appraised the then Finance Minister about former Telecom Minister A Raja’s move to allot spectrum at seven-year-old price without auction.

Details available with The Pioneer show that on being grilled by the MPs on his communication and meeting with Chidambaram during the scam period, Subbarao told the PAC: “There were several consultations with the Finance Minister (Chidambaram) at several stages. So, I cannot recall exactly whether this particular letter (November 29, 2007 from DoT) was discussed on a stand-alone basis or together with other developments in the telecom sector, but I do recall that in that period (October 2007 onwards), I was discussing with the Finance Minister, fairly regularly on telecom sector issues.”

D. SubbaraoMeanwhile, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to thrash out the issues related to Ministry note on Chidambaram’s role in 2G spectrum allocation. In order to accommodate his unscheduled meeting with the PM, Mukherjee’s departure from Washington has been advanced by a few hours. Now he is expected to leave Washington early Sunday morning instead of afternoon.

Subbarao was responding to the volley of questions from several members of the PAC, on how his directive of November 22, 2007 — to stay the allotment of spectrum and GSM licences to Reliance Communication and Tata Teleservices at 2001 price — was not adhered to. The directive had also sought to find new market-based price for spectrum, and suggested auction. But on November 29, 2007, DoT wrote to Subbarao that they were going by the 2003 Cabinet approval for the spectrum allotment policy. After the DoT reply, the Finance Ministry kept quiet.

To the questions, whether he had consulted Chidambaram, the former Finance Secretary, who is currently the Reserve Bank Governor, reiterated: “On this letter of November 29 from the Telecom Secretary, I cannot specifically say that I had taken this particular letter to the FM, but I certainly was discussing with him on a regular basis.”

The recent note by the Finance Ministry to the PMO, and minutes of Raja and Chidambaram’s meeting, clearly show how Subbarao was overruled by Chidambaram to favour Raja’s controversial 2G spectrum allotment. These documents also substantiate Subbarao’s deposition before the PAC that Chidambaram was in the loop.

Subbarao - Raja - ChidambaramWhen Subbarao was pressed by MPs, to provide evidence about his communication and meeting with Chidambaram, he told the members and PAC Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi, “Sir, there may not be a paper trail, but there was certainly discussion going on. Sir, as you know — you have been a Minister yourself in the Government — not everything is on paper or reduced to writing. Maybe there were some file endorsements, but I cannot recall them because the note file is not here.”

To a question, whether he brought the violations and difference of opinion to the notice of the Cabinet Secretary or Chidambaram, Subbarao deposed, “I do not recall having said specifically that we should go back to the Cabinet. That I cannot really say without seeing the file. But I should have briefed the Finance Minister about the ongoing discussions.”

Indicating pressure from Chidambaram and Raja, why no auction of spectrum took place, even after he specifically suggested auction, Subbarao said: “…We (Government) were always arguing on the basis of level playing field rather than on the basis of any growth dimensions that might have subsidised. And if they (Ministers) have chosen so, then as a civil servant, I could not contest that.”

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4 Responses

  1. […] Subramanian Swamy: There is no letter. This all lose talk of letter. It is an office memorandum. It becomes part of the official file. This was written after consultation and Pranab only allows […]

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  2. […] 2G Scam: Tihar gets ready to receive Chidambaram, Maran , and maybe even … – Media … […]

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  3. After a meeting with Madam and Chidambaram the other day, Mukherjee appears to have backtracked somewhat and denied that the note obtained from his office by an RTI activist represented his views.

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  4. http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=117068

    At last, a truthful minister
    MD Nalapat

    Excellent article, worth reading , why not in Indian media?

    Like

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