Reacting to allegations against former finance minister P Chidambaram on being involved in the 2G scam, law minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said that it is unfair to “drag Chidambaram''s name into an element of criminality”.
Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Khurshid said: “"You cannot automatically drag Chidambaram’s name into an element of criminality. That is unfair and if you start doing that nobody is safe...every time you reverse a policy that hasn''t worked you can''t say that the person who had brought that policy was incompetent or that he was dishonest."
He said that it''s standard practice for the government to review its earlier policies.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded Chidambaram''s resignation after Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy submitted to the Supreme Court a document that said the telecom ministry could have gone in for auction of 2G spectrum licences had then finance minister Chidambaram insisted on this.
"Ultimately, the cat is out of the bag. It was very clear from day one that Chidambaram agreed to A Raja's formula for 2G spectrum allocation. If he had stuck to the finance ministry officials position that spectrum should not be allocated in 2008 at 2001 prices the scam would not have taken place," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
Chidambaram came under fire after a 14-page note, prepared by a senior bureaucrat in the finance ministry and seen by Pranab Mukherjee, suggests that Chidambaram could have acted more stridently in 2008, when he was finance minister.
The note relied heavily on technicalities; says that Chidambaram could have "stuck to the stand" of an auction of highly-valuable spectrum.
"DoT could have invoked this clause (5.1 of the UAS license) for cancelling licences in case MoF had stuck to the stand of auctioning the 4.4 MHz spectrum," the note said.
The note added: "It may be mentioned that while the UAS licenses were signed between February 27 and March 7, 2008, spectrum allocations were done starting only in April, 2008, almost four months after the LoIs were issued. However, these were not charged (beyond the normal spectrum usage charges) since there was consensus, at the levels of the Ministers concerned, that spectrum beyond the 'start up' levels only should be charged."
The note has came into the public domain after a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) act by Vivek Garg, an activist.
The telecom scam, one of India''s biggest graft cases ever, may have cost 39.57 billion dollars in revenue to the public exchequer as per the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
In its report, the CAG had disclosed that several guidelines and rules were flouted during the allocation of spectrum licences, which led to many ineligible firms winning licences.
A Raja was sacked in November last year after being charged with giving away telecom licences in 2008 for a pittance at meagre prices of 2001 in the CAG report. He was later arrested on charges of misuse of ministerial office and criminal misconduct. (ANI)