2G issue heats up again, Raja targets PM (Evening Lead)

New Delhi, April 19 (IANS) Ahead of parliament’s budget session resuming Monday, former telecom minister A. Raja Friday targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the 2G spectrum allocation saying everything was done in consultation with him.

His reaction came a day after the draft report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probing the issue blamed Raja but cleared Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of any wrongdoing.

“I did everything in consultation with the prime minister,” said Raja of the DMK, a former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) member, in Chennai. “I will send a note to the JPC. I hope they will call me.”

Raja had written to JPC chief P.C. Chacko seeking to depose before the JPC but his request was turned down.

Even as the opposition criticised the draft JPC report as biased, Chacko said it was based on facts.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the report appeared to be a Congress document and termed its leak to the media as a “gross breach of parliamentary propriety”.

“The draft report of the JPC on 2G issue has been widely reported in the media. This is a gross breach of well-settled parliamentary propriety where any report/draft is debated, discussed, amendments are moved in the formal meeting and thereafter a view is taken,” said BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“Going by the contents of the report in the media, I can only say the 2G scam was one of the biggest scams in the history of independent India, which shamed the country,” he said.

Added D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI): “The report is not acceptable to us. It is prejudged and prejudiced, covering facts and trying to save a few people and blaming one individual.”

JPC chief Chacko defended his work.

“After hard work of one-and-a-half years, I have made a draft report. It is not a biased report and is based on facts and on written documents. I hope it is acceptable to all the members of the JPC,” he said.

Sensing the opposition is likely to take up the issue in parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi reviewed the party’s strategy with senior leaders.

The draft report was circulated among the members of the JPC Thursday. The panel will meet April 25 to finalise it.

DMK’s Raja also sought the permission of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to depose before the JPC but was allowed only to submit his views in writing.

“He was allowed to submit a note and that was circulated to the members. It (is) on record,” said Chacko.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha wrote to the prime minister recently, asking him to appear before the JPC and clear the air about his alleged involvement in the spectrum scam.

Manmohan Singh rejected his request, saying all the documents had been provided to the JPC.

In the past, BJP members boycotted the panel demanding that both the prime minister and Chidambaram be called.

In 2011, an entire winter session of parliament was washed out as the BJP did not allow either house to run till a JPC probe was set up.

The issue came up after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) alleged a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences during the UPA-I government.

The draft report of JPC negates the findings of the official auditor saying Raja had changed the cut off date for the allocation of spectrum without notice and this amounted to an irregularity.

The report further said it was a policy decision to give licences on first-come-first-served basis and not to go for auction. It noted that the move was backed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

It also said Chidambaram had no role in decision-making.

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