2G JPC clears Chidambaram, blames Raja

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The parliamentary panel probing the 2G spectrum allocation has blamed former telecom minister A. Raja, holding he had changed the cut-off date for the spectrum allocation and that Finance Minister P.Chidambaram had no role in it, informed sources said Thursday.

The draft report of the joint parliamentary committee (JPC), circulated among the members, says it was a policy decision to give licences on first come, first served basis and not to go for auction of the spectrum, said the sources, adding the move was backed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

It further says that Raja changing the first come, first served policy and modalities of loss without notice amounted to an irregularity.

The panel had seen its share of controversies with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress members engaging in verbal duels over summoning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram. The prime minister had later rejected the suggestion of BJP member Yashwant Sinha who had urged him to appear before the JPC and clear the air.

Raja had also written to JPC chief P.C. Chacko and Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar saying he wanted to place his views before the JPC.

According to informed sources, Raja wanted to counter the view of Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who told the JPC that as telecom minister, Raja had changed a paragraph in a press note on the 2G licences, allegedly leading to a change in the policy being pursued by the government.

But Chacko maintained no member of parliament had an automatic right to appear before the JPC.

According to Chacko, if Raja’s plea was allowed, the committee would have to call all the former telecom ministers, including those from the BJP who held the portfolio during the National Democratic Alliance rule (1998-2004) as the terms of reference of the committee cover the period from 1998-2009.

The Congress members had threatened the BJP members saying former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee could also be called.

The JPC chairman had said the panel almost completed the job of recording evidence in its last meeting Feb 12.

An entire winter session was washed out as the BJP did not allow parliament to run till a JPC probe was set up in 2011 to look into the telecom licence policy.

The issue came up after an official auditor’s report alleged a presumptive loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the allocation of 2G spectrum licences during the UPA-I government.

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