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The push by the Congress to change the focus away from the 2G scam – statements by Kapil Sibal




For some time now, the Congress has been on the backfoot with respect to the stench with regard to the 2G scam. For some time now, there has been a push to get the decision to issues licenses in 2008 (at 2001 prices) reviewed, and focus on getting the reasons behind this policy decision investigated (with the opposition parties using this as a way to beat the image of the Congress). This has been there for some time in the media, but it was only when the Supreme Court took up the case and started asking all sorts of inconvenient questions about the processes involved, oversight by the Prime Minister and similar questions that some action happened. The Government eased out Raja from his role as the Telecom Minister, and also stated that it would investigate this entire matter more deeply, promising full support and authority to the Supreme Court directed investigation. As a part of such a process, Kapil Sibal was also brought in as the minister for Telecom, with the stated desire of holding this portfolio for cleaning up matters.
But now it looks like the congress is really not willing to get to the root of the matter. Even after the embarrassment of the entire winter session of Parliament being blocked because of the demand by the Opposition for a JPC into the matter, this matter seems to be back into the position that no wrong was done in terms of money, and this was only a problem with the proper process not being followed.
What else can explain the statement by the new telecom minister where he criticized the CAG report, where the CAG had used 3 separate ways of accounting for a loss caused due to the policies followed by A Raja when he was the telecom minister. One can doubt the exact amount of money that the Government (and hence the public) lost, but when you consider the fact that many of the license holders sold their new licenses for multiple times the amount of money that they paid, you can realize that the Government would indeed have lost a lot of money. And yet, the honorable minister says that the net amount of loss was zero, and that the aim of the policy was to ensure that the public benefited. One fails to see how the public benefits when licenses were re-sold for huge amounts of money and the new owners then started using these licenses. At the very least, the amount of money that the new owners paid should have been the actual amount of money that the Government, not a much lower price that was set in 2001. Further, the policies that were used by the telecom ministry, were weird, with all the newspaper reporting essentially stating that the Government set policies that seemed to favor a chosen few.
The Congress does realize that the public believes that there was a lot of corruption, and maybe is taking the belief that saying something else helps in diverting the public attention, but the media is hot on this whole issue of corruption and is constantly attacking this latest approach of the Congress, leaving the Congress confused about whether to defend Sibal, or take a more neutral stand. Further, with the PAC attacking the statements of Sibal, there is bound to more controversy, and can also affect the forthcoming budget session.




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