He has been in the shadow of doubt ever since the 2G spectrum scam broke out, which was repeatedly denied by all and sundry around him, a probe against whom the Centre and CBI opposed. Now a firestorm of controversy is set off by his cabinet colleague Pranab Mukherjee as a recently released note ‘seen by’ him says that the 2G resource could have auctioned in 2008 if the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had “stuck to his stand”.
Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram are often rumored to be the powerful rivals in the Congress party and their rivalry has once again come out in public when the formers’ ministry issued a letter to the PMO in 2008 alleging that Chidambaram had a chance to prevent the illegal spectrum allotment by Raja. The two powerhouses of the Congress party are often seen vying for the top post in the party by the next general elections in 2014. However, the UPA government that is reeling under a series of corruption scandals, is now at a difficult juncture desperately hunting for damage control options.
The allegation says that Chidambaram had a chance to intervene into the spectrum allocation to bring in more revenue to the government. The airwaves were allegedly sold at a very lesser price than their real value resulting in a loss of around 176,379 crores to government exchequer.
The note apparently sent at the approval of Pranab Mukherjee came to light as Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy presented it before the Supreme Court to prove a direct involvement of Chidambaram in the spectrum pricing. It was originally accessed by the RTI activist Vivek Garg from the the Prime Minister’s Office. The letter was prepared by a deputy secretary in the finance ministry and sent to the PM’s office on March 25. It reportedly quotes Chidambaram, after a meeting with A Raja, as saying, “He was for now not seeking to revisit the current regimes for entry fee or revenue share” of spectrum. A strong critic of the Congress party, Swamy has been fighting the legal battle for a CBI probe into the Home Minister‘s role in the 2G scam.
Even after this serious allegation and the following hullabaloo, the Congress party decided to firmly back Chidambaram and said there is not rift within the party over the 2G scam. The Union Law minister Salman Khurshid strongly spoke in support of him saying, “We have no reason to put a question mark on Mr Chidambaram’s conduct. We stand by him.” He rubbished the media buzz about the possible differences between the key ministers and said, “We cannot comment on the paper till court takes it into account. It is just one sided presentation of documents.”
The main opposition BJP was quick to react and demanded the Home Minister’s resignation over the letter. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “It was very clear from day one that Chidambaram agreed to A. Raja‘s formula for 2G spectrum allocation. If he had stuck to his position that spectrum should not be allocated at 2001 prices the scam would not have taken place.” CPI National Secretary D. Raja said “Chidambaram’s position, morally speaking, is increasingly becoming untenable. His role as the then finance minister needs to be examined and questioned.”
- 2G Note by the Finance Ministry – Original Document. (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- 2G CBI questions Supreme Court on Chidambaram. (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- The Hindu : News / National : 2G: CPI(M) demands CBI probe against Chidambaram (dtsreddy.wordpress.com)