Upping the ante against home minister P Chidambaram in 2G spectrum scam, BJP today said his place was in the same cell in Tihar jail in which former telecom minister A Raja has been lodged and demanded a probe into the alleged role of the Prime Minister in the case.
"There is so much evidence that has come out against P Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum case that for CBI to say in court now that he is not guilty would be laughable. Chidambaram's place is in the same cell in Tihar jail in which A Raja has been lodged," BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said.
BJP, which has gradually built up the steam against Chidambaram in the 2G scam, seems to have got a shot in the arm with the finance ministry's note to the PMO in the case becoming public.
Sinha was equally scathing against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, charging that he was fully in the know of the developments in the 2G Spectrum allocation all along. Video: PM backs Chidambaram
"If today I have any admiration for A Raja it is for the fact that he kept the Prime Minister informed at every step. He wrote a letter to the Prime Minister whenever a new development took place," Sinha said.
He insisted that about 20-30 questions need to be asked from the Prime Minister on this issue.
"If after all this, the Prime Minister kept silent then it would not be considered as silence but consent. If this touches Chidambaram, the Prime Minister knows he cannot be untouched," Sinha said.
He demanded that the court should order an enquiry into Chidambaram's role as well as that of the Prime Minister.
"If the Prime Minister's role is not inquired into, then we will not be able to do justice," Sinha said.
Sinha said the Prime Minister had earlier defended A Raja but stopped doing so when he was sent to jail.
"When Chidambaram is sent to jail, the Prime Minister will stop defending him too. Then he will only defend himself. And when his government goes in the wake of this scam, then it will become difficult for him to defend himself," Sinha said.
He alleged that the Prime Minister was "aware and fully complicit" in the scam as Raja had kept him informed.
The former finance minister, who is also a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee probing the spectrum case, said he had an inkling of Chidambaram's involvement all along and what has come to light now is not a surprise.
"What is there in the note is not new for some of us. Chidambaram's role has always been under the needle of suspicion," he said, adding that he was a member of the JPC.
Sinha insisted that the finance ministry note confirms BJP's suspicion as now even the finance minister is saying what the opposition has alleged till now.
He maintained that the documents show that Chidambaram had "completely abandoned" the initial stand taken by the Finance Ministry on the 2-G spectrum issue. The ministry officials had reportedly suggested that spectrum should be auctioned.
"The entry fee of 2001 will not be valid in 2008. And by then spectrum had also become a scarce commodity and should have been 'market-discovered'," Sinha said.
BJP maintained that on July 4, 2008 Chidambaram apprised the Prime Minister of his conclusion on this issue. The party alleged that Chidambaram left aside his ministry's stand and went with the telecom ministry's opinion.
"The consensus which Chidambaram was talking about was actually the DOT opinion," Sinha said.
Asked if he was charging Chidambaram with not just procedural lapses but also "criminal culpability", Sinha answered in the affirmative.
He felt his party should have attacked Chidambaram harder than it has till now.
"I would like to say with all due regard to my BJP colleagues that the party has till now tread a soft line against Chidambaram," Sinha said.
Attacking the Prime Minister, Sinha said, "What kind of a PM do we have who is told to keep off by Raja and he does so". He said somebody should ask the Prime Minister why he wanted to be kept at an "arm's length" on this issue.
He defended NDA government's Telecom policy, saying it had gone for a first-come-first serve policy at that time as there were only two players in the fray at that time and spectrum was not scarce then.
Defending National Telecom Policy-1999, Sinha said at that time if the government had gone for auctions, it would not have got a "single farthing".
"Duopoly was ended and multipoly brought in later... It is a complete mis-statement to say that there was a loss of revenue," Sinha said.
He insisted that Chidambaram should be tried based on "prima facie guilt" as CVC has inquired into the 2G spectrum issue and now the CBI in inquiring into it.