The political fallout of the Supreme Court verdict cancelling 122 2G licences granted during then telecom minister A Raja’s tenure is expected to pan out in two phases.
The first will begin with the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh and the second after the results of the polls in five states are announced on March 6.
The first phase is certain to witness the BSP trying to deflect corruption charges against the Mayawati government by focusing on the UPA regime. The BJP too will use the verdict to dent the aggressive campaign led by Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress will join the debate by pointing out that the ‘first-come, first-served’ policy of allocating spectrum during the NDA’s term was the fundamental flaw.
The Congress has also been relieved that the Supreme Court has restricted itself to indicting Raja and not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or the then finance minister P Chidambaram.
It has noted that the PM and the finance ministry had warned Raja about complaints of irregularities in the allocation process but he ignored the warnings.
But a clearer picture on Chidambaram's future will emerge after the special CBI judge gives his verdict on Saturday on Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy's plea to make him a co-accused along with Raja and ask the CBI to probe his conduct.
The second phase of the political fallout after the outcome of the assembly polls is likely to see a more aggressive opposition going after the government in the course of Parliament's budget session, which begins on March 12.
Key Congress managers brushed aside the possibility of the apex court's verdict having a major impact on the polls. "While corruption by the Mayawati government and deteriorating law and order are the main poll issues in UP, Goa is all about election management," a senior Congress leader said.
Other party leaders argued that assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry last year were held when the 2G issue was one of the main talking points. "Local issues matter most in assembly elections," they said.
In the event of an unfavourable verdict for the Congress in the polls, BJP leaders see UPA allies, including the Trinamool Congress, NCP and even the DMK becoming more assertive.