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2G scam guilty won't be spared: Prime Minister

Breaking his silence amidst the logjam in Parliament, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh today promised action against anybody for any "wrong thing" done in the 2G spectrum allocation. HT reports. Counterpoint | Summit in pics | Full coverage

delhi Updated: Nov 21, 2010 01:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

Breaking his silence on the 2G spectrum allocation scandal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised action against anyone found guilty.

But he also appealed to opposition political parties to allow Parliament - paralysed by them now for two weeks demanding a joint parliamentary committee to probe the scam - to function and hold a 'reasoned debate' on the issue.

The Prime Minister, who has weathered several political storms during the six years he has been at the helm of the country, is under attack from the Opposition over the telecom controversy.

He is also being asked by the Supreme Court - which is hearing a PIL on the subject - to respond to certain queries relating to the scam.

"Indeed, as Prime Minister I sometimes feel like a high school student - going from one test to another," Singh said in his keynote address at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday.

He, however, added significantly, "Though we are being constantly tested we are winning.... Each time, we have been able to turn a crisis into an opportunity."

Singh refrained from making a "detailed statement" on the 2G spectrum controversy since Parliament was in session.

"But there should not be any doubt in anybody's mind (that) if any wrong thing has been done by anybody, he or she will be brought to book," he said.

"I can state that various aspects of the issue are being looked into by respective investigating agencies in their domains of interest," he said.

"We are ready to discuss all issues in Parliament. We are not afraid to discuss."

Through a reasoned Parliament debate, Singh said, some agreement could be reached on "nationally acceptable and viable approaches" to deal with "our differences".

Parliament needed to function to pass vital laws that are required to improve the lives of people, he said.

Four times in his speech, Singh used the 'C' word: corruption. He referred to it when he spoke of India's rise as "the rise of over a billion people fighting poverty, ignorance and disease, battling social prejudice, living with inadequate infrastructure, dealing with corruption and misgovernance.

He noted how small entrepreneurs and farmers contributed to the country's economic success despite the difficulties they faced, often including "an unresponsive, inefficient and corrupt government."

At the same time, Singh depicted corruption as a systemic problem, a global phenomenon that needs to be fought collectively.

"We have to deal effectively with the threats of corruption and crony capitalism, not only in India but all over the world," he said.

According to him, there has to be collective fight by humanity as a whole against "hunger, poverty, terrorism, disease, tyranny, corruption, bigotry and extremism".

Opposition leaders, however, remained unmoved by Singh's appeal.

Addressing a subsequent session at the summit, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat reiterated the demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the telecom scam - one which the government has so far refused to concede.

"We do not want to disrupt Parliament," she said.

"I appeal to the PM to help Parliament resume normal work by agreeing to the setting up of a bipartisan JPC."

BJP leader Arun Jaitley was harsher.

"The Prime Minister has a good track record of so-called statements of good intention but very little to show by way of action," he said.

"It's time (corrupt) people were identified, prosecuted and sent to jail. We don't want a debate as a way out of the crisis for the government when, in reality, the government has created an infrastructure to protect the corrupt by its appointments in the CVC and CBI."

Counterpoint | Summit in pics | Full coverage

First Published: Nov 20, 2010 11:26 IST