BJP on Monday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come clear on his role in the ISRO-Devas deal and fix responsibility, saying the Space Department comes directly under him and the government cannot get away by merely calling the agreement a "procedural lapse".
"The cabinet secretary's report to the Prime Minister calls the Antrix-Devas deal a procedural lapse. We feel this was a glaring, palpable lapse of the political leadership of the party presently ruling the nation," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Alleging that the deal had caused a "loss of public face" of the government, BJP maintained that had the media and the opposition not raised this issue the Congress-led government would never have cancelled the agreement.
"This whole ISRO and the Department of Space comes under the Prime Minister. If this was a procedural lapse what were you (the PM) doing. The cabinet secretary, minister of state in PMO Prithviraj Chavan, space secretary and others sit there," Prasad said.
BJP condemned the incident and demanded an explanation from the Prime Minister.
"BJP very strongly condemns this palpable attempt to put the whole issue under the carpet by taking the alibi of procedural lapses.... We demand categorically from Manmohan Singh that he tell the nation who all are responsible and what is his role in the lapses in this deal," he said.
He alleged that the cabinet secretary's report "conceals more than it reveals".
The main opposition also compared the Antrix-Devas deal with other spectrum contracts to argue that there had been a huge loss to the exchequer.
"In 2005, ISRO made a deal with Devas to give it two captive satellites for just Rs 1,000 crore. Along with this, 70 MHz spectrum was to be given for 20 years," Prasad said.
He cited the auction of 15 MHz spectrum for 3G which had fetched the government Rs 67,719 crore and the broadband wireless services auction where Rs 38,000 crore was obtained.
"The decision to terminate the agreement was taken way back in July 2010, after finding it was not in the nation's interest. And the agreement was finally cancelled in February 2011," Prasad said.