Former telecom minister Arun Shourie has stirred up a storm by alleging that a key official in the Prime Minister ‘s Office had wanted the PMO kept at “arm’s length” on the 2G issue.
Shourie was reacting to former telecom minister and 2G accused A Raja’s contention in court on Monday[25-7-2011] that he had discussed the 2G spectrum allocation issue with Singh and Chidambaram .Shourie claimed that he was basing his statement on the Prime Minister’s file on this issue.
Shourie claimed he was referring to a file noting by the Principal Secretary to the PM on January 15, 2008. Shourie said, “He (the official) wrote that the PM wants this informally shared with the Department Telecom and does not want any formal communications. The PM wants the PMO to be kept at an arm’s length.”
The “arm’s length” reference was presumably to flurry of letters written by stating that the PM had been informed and that he (Raja) had the benefit the advice of the Finance Minister.
Shourie’s statement raises a question mark over the denials by Sibal and Chidambaram that only the issue of dilution of stake by Unitech and Swan Telecom were discussed in the presence of the PM, and not any divestment.
Political observers said if Shourie’s contention was correct, then there was a question mark over why the PMO wanted to be officially kept at a distance. “This would mean they were aware of Raja’s actions,” an observer said.
Shourie claimed that the government argument about the Prime Minister being concerned about dilution of equity by the licence-holders and not divesting does not stand.
“If it had been in line with foreign equity policy of the government why has this government issued a show cause notice of penalty to Etisalat for Rs 7,100 crore for violating FEMA?” Shourie asked.
Refuting Mr. Raja’s claim that he was only following the NDA policy
on spectrum allocation while dealing with 2G allocation, Mr. Shourie said: “He is completely wrong in saying he was following NDA policy.
I can show he was not following any policy, procedure or principle.”
“It is a very interesting point (fist-come-first-served-basis). It is a red herring shown to the public. The issue is that (former telecom minister) A Raja made money irrespective of whether it was a first-come-first-served policy or not.
Raja’s disclosure in the court on Monday [25-7-2011] has not only given fresh ammunition to the Opposition to target the PM and Chidambaram, but
deepened the suspicion that a DMK Minister alone could not have been
architect of such a massive fraud.