A day after PM Manmohan Singh fully expressed faith in P Chidambaram in the wake of a controversy over a finance ministry note to the PMO, the BJP targeted the PM asking whether he was shielding the home minister over fears of 'embers of the fire' reaching the PMO.
The Congress, taking cue from the PM's backing, fully rallied behind Chidambaram, sought to turn the tables on the BJP, which demanded Chidambaram's resignation. It questioned the decisions taken by the NDA government despite "serious objections" being raised by its telecom minister.
"For every question the BJP raises, we can raise two. Notwithstanding serious objections raised by a former telecom minster of NDA, why it is that the migration was permitted, Why the spirit of national telecom policy was violated.... Why the entry level for new players would be the same.... Why the spectrum was not auctioned separately," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
As Tewari asked the BJP not to "jump the gun" since the 2G issue was already under a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe, the BJP alleged Chidambaram's "culpability" was evident and demanded a fair investigation into his role. With the PM's support for Chidambaram, Congress sources said it was understood that party chief Sonia Gandhi too endorsed the Prime Minister's line.
But BJP's chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad wondered how the PM has expressed "full confidence" in him without going into the merits of the case in the wake of the new evidence.
"Is his confidence in his ministerial colleague more important than a fair inquiry?" he asked, insisting that "not taking timely action for the benefit of someone is also a crime".
Prasad said, "We want to ask the PM if the compulsion to shield Chidambaram is there as the embers of the fire can reach the PMO…Skeletons are fighting skeletons and rocking the boat of UPA. How long will you keep quiet, Mr Prime Minister?"
"The CBI is more than keen to take the testimony of Jaswant Singh as he had headed the GoM on telecom but is absolutely stonewalling the questioning of Chidambaram," Prasad said.
Prasad also asked at whose behest was the note by the finance ministry prepared. "At whose instance did the finance ministry prepare the note for the PMO? The country is certainly entitled to know if the PMO asked for the note. If yes, why was there no follow-up action?"