While the BJP called it a matter of grave concern, the Congress on Saturday downplayed former minister P Chidambaram's comment against Manmohan Singh on the 2G scam, saying it should be taken "holistically".
"On October 18, 2007, when the then Telecommunications Regulatory Authority chairperson made a recommendation that the licences with bundled spectrum should be given at 2001 prices, and subsequently, when those recommendations were accepted by the telecom commissions and licences were distributed, there was an inflection point when reports had emerged on the process by which the licences were granted," Congress leader Manish Tewari said.
"Maybe at that time, the cabinet should have collectively taken it within their preview. Therefore, if I were to read the former finance minister's statement in a holistic perspective, what he was possible alluding to, was that the cabinet could have taken that into their consideration," he added.
Chidambaram at a book launch on Friday had created a flutter saying former PM Manmohan Singh should have heeded his advice and cancelled the licences and not allowed the courts to take a call.
“The prime minister could have put his foot down and said I would not let you follow the first-come-first-serve policy. Or he could have cancelled the licences without waiting for the court order… Once it came out as a scandal, the government should have cancelled it,” Chidambaram said.
The BJP said that Chidambaram's comment was a matter of grave concern and that it proved that the Congress party had tried to hide its errors.
"What Chidambaram is saying is a matter of great concern. When the former finance minister said that the then Congress government had committed mistakes, it only points to the fact that the Congress had tried to hide its errors," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
Patra further said that Chidambaram's comment stood at odds with the then Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal's statement that there had been 'zero loss' in the 2G scam.