The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday demanded an explanation from Manmohan Singh over the testimony of a senior bureaucrat on the 2G scam who has said he wrote to the Prime Minister's office suggesting higher price for mobile spectrum.
Former cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar appeared before a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on Thursday and said that in Dec 2007 he wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting that mobile network licenses be sold for Rs 36,000 crore each to the operators.
The licenses, that were however, sold a month later for Rs 1,600 crore each in an allegedly corrupt manner under Union Telecoms Minister A Raja have led to the massive 2G spectrum scam that shook government and business establishments over the last two years.
Chandrashekhar's disclosure has now sparked a fresh row with the BJP and the Left renewing their charge that the Prime Minister was aware that the mobile airwaves were worth a lot more than what they were sold for.
Citing the deposition, the BJP has renewed its demand that the PM and Finance Minister P Chidambaram must testify before the JPC.
"Mr Chandrashekhar´s deposition confirms that the nation suffered a loss. This all raises more questions on the PM. What did he do after he got the letter? How can the PM take no decision after the Cabinet Secretary´s note? P Chidambaram too stayed silent," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Defending the Prime Minister, however, JPC chief PC Chacko, a leader of the ruling Congress party, was quoted as saying: ""There is no revelation...actually it was one of the reports sent to the PMO."
"The Cabinet Secretary had reported at that point of time - when various aspects were being considered by the PMO, the Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Finance Ministry - that if 2001 prices are revised to some level, then what will be the implication...it was just a calculation...It wasn´t the responsibility of the PM to revise the entry fee, or the spectrum price or charges," he added.
The Supreme Court in a landmark verdict in February this year had ordered all 122 telecoms licences issued the 2008 sale be revoked and termed the government's first-come-first-served allocation "unconstitutional".