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BJP seeks PC's head

BJP seeks PC's head

Author: Pioneer News Service
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 8, 2011
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/351621/BJP-seeks-PCs-head.html

JPC probe indicts ex-FM for giving Raja free hand

The JPC inquiry in 2G scam has brought in sharp focus the role of Home Minister P Chidambaram in letting former Telecom Minister A Raja have his way in spectrum allotment on first-come-first-serve basis despite objections by his own Ministry.

Questioning Chidambaram's role, Opposition BJP on Thursday asked then Finance Minister P Chidambaram to quit as his U-turn on spectrum allocation policy paved the way for the mega scam.

Chidambaram as Finance Minister in 2008 accepted Raja's arbitrary and illegal decision to allot spectrum on first- come- first basis on 2001 price despite the fact that the then finance secretary D Subbarao had written to the department of telecom to stop spectrum allotment on old price.

Making a presentation before the JPC, Economic Affairs Secretary R Gopalan said that the Finance Ministry had suggested in 2006 that the Group of Ministers on Telecom should decide on spectrum pricing and the same should be included in the terms of reference of the ministerial panel.

On January 11, 2008, Raja went ahead with spectrum allotment and four days later Chidamabaram endorsed it. For the record Chidamabaram did write to the Prime Minister that in future spectrum should not be allotted in this manner.

Chidambaram's role has also come under the scanner because he held two meetings with Raja in 2007 prior to and after the allotment of spectrum. But even though records of such official meetings between two ministers are maintained, in this case no such papers exist. During the deposition of officials of the Economic Affairs Ministry, before the JPC, they also informed that crucial papers on decision making on spectrum allotment had gone missing.

Raising this in the JPC meet, some members wanted a thorough probe of Chidambaram's role, sources said.

Meanwhile, the JPC also began recording of evidence of witnesses in the scam and held a session with former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman M S Verma.

Former telecom secretaries AV Gokak, Anil Kumar, Shyamal Ghosh, Vinod Vaish, Nripendra Misra, J S Sharma, D S Mathur, Siddharth Behura and P J Thomas are expected to appear before the JPC in the next couple of weeks.

Gokak and Vaish are scheduled appear before the JPC tomorrow.

Former TRAI Chairmen S S Sodhi and Pradip Baijal have also been asked to appear before the Committee.

JPC chairman PC Chacko said the Committee had prepared a list of 80 witnesses who have been asked to present themselves before the Committee. These include top officers of leading telecom firms and former telecom ministers.

Former ministers will be the last set of persons to be appear before the Committee.

Chacko said the number of witnesses could increase as members were suggesting more names.

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