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2G scam: Finance Ministry's note puts Chidambaram in spotlight

September 22, 2011 00:34 IST

The 2G spectrum case has taken a wild turn with the release of a note that could be a game changer.

The Finance Ministry's office memorandum, approved by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, released on Wednesday by Janata Party Chief Subramanian Swamy has put the role of Home minister P Chidambaram under the spotlight. 

The 11-page note sent to the Prime Minister's Office is talking about the meeting in January 2008 where the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram approved of the 2G spectrum pricing. He wasn't seeking any change in it, claims the note.

The memo written on March 25, 2011 says that if Chidambaram wanted, the 2G spectrum could have been auctioned.

On March 25, 2011, Dr PGS Rao, deputy director in the Finance Ministry has written a memo to Vini Mahajan, Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office.

The note is regarding the allocation and pricing of 2G spectrum. This explosive note was accessed by a Vivek Garg, a Right To Information activist.

Some of the revelations in the note are surely going to damage Chidambaram's stand on the 2G spectrum issue. The case of 2G spectrum case is at a sensitive stage where a special judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation court is going to frame charges soon. The note has been released at a sensitive time.

The note says that the Finance Ministry under Chidambaram "implicitly agreed to imposition of same entry fee as that prevailing in 2001 for licenses allotted up to December 31, 2008."

This revelation will hurt Chidambaram politically and legally because his complicity in decision (for which former Telecom Minister A Raja is in jail), is likely to be taken into consideration at various levels in the legal process.

Mukherjee's letter says that Chidambaram was in the `loop and he could have stopped the wrongful ways of giving allotting the 2G spectrum. Swamy says that CBI must take into account new evidences and witnesses.

"Chidambaram had connived with Raja in selling the spectrum at throwaway prices," according to Swamy.

Swamy has requested that the special court of CBI to make Chidambram an accused. Swamy's contention is that Raja is not solely responsible because the price of the 2G spectrum was decided by him and Chidambaram.

This notes claims that there was consensus between Raja and Chidambaram on not charging for spectrum up to 4.4 megahertz.

The note to the PMO said that the Department of Economic Affairs was legally within its rights to revise the spectrum pricing.

Significantly, on April 21, 2008, Chidambaram sent a 'non-paper' to Raja where he said that 'in-principle' decision may be taken to price the spectrum beyond 4.4 megahertz. This is what A.Raja wanted and Chidambaram agreed to.

The memo issued from FM's office says, "DoT response on November 29, 2007 was brought to the notice of then FM Chidambaram on 9, January, 2008 along with suggestions to argue for revision of entry fee and adoption for auction with spectrum usage as the bid parameter," it says.

"The fact that a full Telecom Commission was to meet on January 15 was also mentioned, but no response, however, was sent by DEA to DoT either on the issues raised by DoT in the communication dated November 29, 2007 or with reference to the impending meeting," it says.

Expectedly, Bhartiya Janta Party's spokesman Prakash Javdekar has said, "Ultimately, the cat is out of the bag. It was very clear from day one that Chidambaram agreed to Raja's formula for 2G spectrum allocation. If he had stuck to the Finance Ministry officials position that spectrum should not be allocated in 2008 at 2001 prices, the scam would not have taken place."

The BJP has demanded that Chidambaram should resign in view of  "his role in 2G scam."

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi