Opposition asks why can't PM sack Chidambaram
Since the finance ministry note on P Chidambaram's alleged involvement in 2G scam came out in the open, the Opposition has been gunning for his scalp. And the UPA continued to maintain a defensive stance.india Updated: Sep 23, 2011 19:52 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday said the "culpability" of P. Chidambaram was evident in the 2G spectrum scam and demanded a fair investigation into his role as the finance minister in allocation of scarce spectrum in 2008.
Keeping up its attack on Chidambaram, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government's image will be further tarnished if it does not order an investigation into his role.
"Culpability of Chidambaram is evident," Prasad said. The BJP has stepped up its demand for Chidambaram's ouster after a finance ministry note to the Prime Minister's Office in March surfaced, which said Chidambaram could have prevented the spectrum from being given away at throwaway prices.
Prasad said he wanted to ask the "great patrons of Chidambaram" in the government if the minister had abused authority and allowed some persons to "gain pecuniary advantage without public interest".
Prasad also accused the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of double standards in relation to the 2G spectrum probe.
"The CBI is more than keen to question Jaswant Singh (former finance minister) but is absolutely stonewalling pleas to investigate Chidambaram despite voluminous evidence," he said.
Calling upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to order a probe, Prasad said not doing so will further tarnish the image of government at a time when there is pressure from people on cases of corruption.
"Is your (PM's) confidence in your colleagues more important, or, a fair, transparent investigation?" Prasad asked, referring to a statement of Manmohan Singh that Chidambaram enjoyed his confidence.
Prasad said that on Nov 22, 2007, then finance secretary D. Subbarao wrote to his counterpart in the communications ministry raising concerns that spectrum was being allocated at 2001 prices, and suggested that either current valuation or indexation should be done.
Prasad said Chidambaram wrote a letter Jan 15, four days after spectrum allocation, in which he said auction was the correct way of giving spectrum but added that his ministry treats the allocations already made "as a closed chapter."
"If an auction had been done (of 2G spectrum), it would have fetched at least Rs 35,000 crore," Prasad said.
In its March 25 note to the PMO, the finance ministry says Chidambaram could have prevented spectrum from being given away at throwaway prices by insisting on its auction, implying that presumptive losses worth thousands of crores could have thus been avoided.
First Published: Sep 23, 2011 16:45 IST