Home minister P Chidambaram on Friday accused the MM Joshi-led Public Accounts Committee’s draft report of distorting his January 2008 note to the Prime Minister, emphasising that “even a person with average intelligence” would have noticed that his note did not deal with entry fee that is at the heart of the 2G spectrum allegations.
Chidambaram’s statement is the most stinging rebuttal of the PAC’s draft report that put the UPA government on the defensive but was rejected by 11 of the 21 members of the PAC on Thursday.
“Mr MM Joshi’s draft report was a gross distortion of the note dated 15 January 2008 and mischievously commented that I had ‘pleaded with the Prime Minister to treat the matter as closed’,” Chidambaram — who had written the note as finance minister in 2008 — said.
The draft report “also deliberately and mischievously omitted the suggestion regarding charging the licencees prospectively,” Chidambaram said, placing his note to the PM in public domain.
The note refers to the three elements of spectrum charges, entry fee, charges for spectrum and revenue share (also called licence fee).
After tracing the background of the charges, the note makes it clear that it was dealing only with suggestions to raise additional resources through the allocation of 2G spectrum.
“I am constrained to observe that even a person with average intelligence would notice that the note dealt only with spectrum usage charges,” a written statement by Chidambaram said.
Asked at a press conference if he meant Joshi was a person with below average intelligence, he replied with a tinge of sarcasm that he was referring to himself. "I did not say that. I am talking about persons like me with average intelligence. I was referring to myself," he said.
Chidambaram was hitting back at Joshi for remarks in the report which said the panel was shocked that in his note he had acknowledged that spectrum is a scarce resource but made a condescending suggestion that the matter be treated closed.