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Cong wants 2G scam sorted before Budget session

By A Correspondent
December 09, 2010 13:28 IST
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The Central Bureau of Investigation got into an overdrive to complete the 2G scam investigations by February after the Prime Minister's office (PMO) wanted to shrug off the impression that the government is mired in corruption.

The ruling Congress simultaneously mounted a major counter-offensive against the Bhartiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance to rub off the blot on the United Progressive Alliance, releasing documents to claim the "suspect" policy decisions during  its regime too caused loss of thousands of crores to the exchequer.

The party is rattled by the whole session of Parliament wasted for the  first time in the history of independent
India because of the Opposition blocking both the Houses to press for a JPC probe into the government's scams.

The Congress core committee that met Tuesday night, therefore, authorised the prime minister to do all possible to ensure the 2G scam does not drag on till the budget session of Parliament and accordingly the CBI was asked to complete the probe before the session starts in the last week  of February, top government sources said.

The counter-offensive against the BJP was mounted with the 'dirt' dug out from old files by new Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.
The Congress on Wednesday released some official documents from the days of the NDA regime that carry the signatures of the NDA's telecom ministers Pramod Mahajan and Arun Shourie and the senior officials during that regime.

No surprise Sibal, a minister whose integrity is not in doubt, was given charge of the telecom ministry to use his background as a lawyer to quickly draw up an exhaustive dossier on the developments in the telecom sector during the NDA regime to counter the BJP's propaganda on corruption in the 2G spectrum allocation.

While party spokesman Manish Tewari was given some official documents dating back to the NDA regime for release at a press conference on Wednesday, sources said Sibal

may come out with full facts one of these days, explaining to the nation how the "policies and decisions" of the NDA government created the ground for the gross irregularities in the telecom sector.

The party leadership hopes this strategy will help retrieve the ground lost in the battle of perceptions in the wake of scandals that shook its government starting with the Commonwealth Games scam and then Adarsh housing scam and finally the 2G allocations.

The Congress was also emboldened in this regard from the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending the scope of CBI's investigation into the spectrum allocation to cover the crucial period between 2001 and 2004 as well when the BJP-led NDA was in power.

Sources said the CBI raids on Raja and his aides are part of the damage control exercise about which Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo M Karunanidhi has already been taken into confidence to avert any immediate political fallout. They said the Prime Minister has also conveyed to him that the telecom portfolio cannot be given back to the DMK to prevent the Opposition from crying of cover-up of Raja's alleged misdeeds by another party colleague.

Releasing the documents that put the BJP in bad light, Congress spokesman Tewari said they show how the contractual obligations were violated repeatedly by NDA ministers to allocate extra spectrum and even reduce licence fees causing losses of thousands of crore.

"These are not notional losses like in the 2-G spectrum but the government's own estimates,"

Tewari said, asserting that the BJP was creating daily disruptions in Parliament as it did not want a debate to escape this disclosure.

He said the party had compiled enough evidence to expose, but it kept waiting for a debate in Parliament. "Now that there is no chance of a debate, we will release these before the nation," he said.

Asked if the attempt to tar the BJP by the same brush would serve the national cause, Tewari shot back, "We kept telling the BJP that they should differentiate between scandals and improper policy decisions but they tried to create an impression that this was the most corrupt government. Now they will have to answer for their own deeds."

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A Correspondent in New Delhi
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