Pranab letter says DEA forced to circulate 2G note
Pranab Mukherjee’s September 26 letter to PM Manmohan Singh has brought focus on PMO and cabinet secretariat mandarins for not only pointing the needle of suspicion at the finance ministry then under P Chidambaram for allotment of 2G licences but also insisting that the March 25 note be circulated by the DEA. HT reports.delhi Updated: Nov 02, 2011 01:01 IST
Pranab Mukherjee’s September 26 letter to PM Manmohan Singh has brought focus on PMO and cabinet secretariat mandarins for not only pointing the needle of suspicion at the finance ministry then under P Chidambaram for allotment of 2G licences but also insisting that the March 25 note be circulated by the DEA.
It is evident from Mukherjee’s letter that the critical sentence blaming the finance ministry for not insisting on auction of licences appeared in the March 25 official memorandum (OM) after consultation and revision between cabinet secretariat and PMO officials.
“It also needs to be emphasized that DEA was not in favour of sending the note, after finalisation through a formal OM. It was upon the insistence of JS, PMO (Vini Mahajan) through her phone calls to secretary, DEA, that the communication was sent through a formal OM on March 25, 2011,” Mukherjee told the PM.
The March 25 note was approved by Mukherjee two days before it was sent to PMO.
Interestingly, K.M. Chandrasekhran, then cabinet secretary, is believed to have told some leaders in September that he had no idea about the origins of the March 25, 2011 memorandum or meetings with the PMO on the 2G issue.
It now transpires that the March 25 note misses out on some vital communications among the principals.
Top government sources said the note prepared by finance ministry deputy director PGS Rao made no mention of correspondence between Raja and PM Singh particularly letters dated Nov 2, 2007, Dec 26, 2007 and Jan 3, 2008. Acknowledged by the PM on Jan 3, 2008, the telecom ministry rejected the method of auction as well as revision of entry fee despite the PM raising concerns over spectrum allotment.
The ministry’s letter informed the PM: “The department has decided to continue with the existing policy (first-come-first-served) for processing of applications received up to Sept 23, 2007, which is the date when the news item on announcement of cut-off date appeared...”
The 2G letters of intent were issued on January 10, 2008, a week after PM acknowledged the Raja letter.
Significantly, the memorandum does not refer to crucial meetings between Raja and Mukherjee, chairman of eGoM on spectrum. Rao has only annexed “exchange of correspondence on the issues relating to spectrum pricing being part of the GoM” and “list of correspondence between PMO and finance ministry from April 2004 onwards” to the memo.
Pranab meets PM and Sonia
A day after finance ministry officials were grilled by the JPC over its controversial background note, Pranab Mukherjee held meetings with party chief Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh. Sources close to Mukherjee claimed that he appraised Gandhi about the current developments of the JPC and PAC.
In the two meetings, the UPA brass is believed to have discussed the strategy to tackle the 2G controversy and Team Anna. Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present. HTC, Delhi