The United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA’s) 2G headache is turning into a migraine. The Opposition turned more assertive today and the Congress more aggressive in its defence at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) meetings on the 2G spectrum scam.
The issue in question was why there was such a vast difference in presumptive loss estimates by two officials in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office.
R P Singh, former director general, post and telegraph, was scheduled to be heard as a witness at the PAC meeting. Congress member Sanjay Nirupam demanded Vinod Rai, the present comptroller and auditor general (CAG), leave the room as Singh would be constrained in his testimony by the presence of a senior official, as he was taking a stand against the CAG.
“The Congress party doesn’t know what to do because by writing an official letter to the PAC chairman asking him to call witnesses, they have made the entire discussion official and have reopened the PAC report returned by the Speaker.
The report was sent back because the PAC had not adopted it but now we can call more witnesses and adopt the report after the investigation is completed,” said a PAC member.
The Opposition parties and UPA ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam want to call the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director as the agency had estimated a loss of Rs 26,000 crore, telecom minister Kapil Sibal as he had stated there was no loss and also officials of telecom regulator Trai. That would mean the PAC proceedings would drag on.
As a result of Nirupam’s demand, members of the BJP, AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and Shiromani Akali Dal argued Rai was not required to step outside as CAG was a constitutional authority.
When he saw Congress members were not ready to relent, PAC chairman Murli Manohar Joshi adjourned the meeting and decided to consult constitutional and legal experts before the next round.
The present crisis for the Congress started after Nirupam wrote to Joshi on October 10, asking him to call R P Singh as a witness as the retired officer had said the loss from the 2G spectrum scam was Rs 2,645 crore and not Rs 1.76 lakh crore. Soon after Singh made these statements to the media, Rai wrote to Joshi, asking him to allow the CAG to clarify the differences in opinion.
“How can the CAG not be allowed to take part in the meeting after having been present all along at previous meetings? CAG is a constitutional position and its role is of a guide and friend of PAC. The Congress demand is wrong,” said a senior PAC member.
SC tells CBI to explain Kanimozhi bail move
The Supreme Court has directed the CBI to explain on what basis it took the decision not to oppose the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi and four others in the 2G scam case. A bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice H L Dattu told Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval to make a statement in this regard on Tuesday.