Telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday blamed the NDA regime for the current mess in the allotment of 2G spectrum even as the UPA government and Congress closed ranks to defend embattled home minister P Chidambaram on the issue.
Sibal said the Supreme Court had found fault with the first-come-first-served policy formulated by the BJP-led NDA government. “We followed it. The court found the policy discriminatory, not the fact that we followed it,” he said.
Asked why the UPA did not cancel the licences granted due to NDA’s faulty policy, he said, "at that point of time, we thought the policy was okay. Now we shall reconsider."
Sibal said the court verdict was consistent with the UPA government's policy. "I have stated earlier that we will de-link licence from the spectrum," he said and assured that the government would put fresh rules in place within four months - the deadline set by the apex court to set the ball rolling on the way forward on spectrum sale.
On its part, the Congress dismissed as "illogical and ridiculous" the BJP's claim that the "severe indictment" of the UPA government by the apex court was "collective responsibility" of the ruling coalition, and hence Chidambaram should resign.
"There is nothing specifically against the government or any minister. The Supreme Court has spoken about the policy issue. UPA gave the licences as per NDA’s policy, which was not proper,” party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.
Another general secretary BK Hariprasad said the BJP was targeting Chidambaram as he had taken action against "Sangh terror".
The issue was not raised at the cabinet meeting but PM Manmohan Singh informally sat with senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, AK Antony and Kapil Sibal to discuss the ramifications of the verdict.
The UPA brass doesn't see it as a major face loss but is looking at the upcoming verdict on Chidambaram in the lower court. The top leaders are known to have discussed the possible financial implications of the verdict too.