After ex-Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai attacked Manmohan Singh on 2G issue, Congress leader Kamal Nath on Friday said the former Prime Minister may have made a "mistake" in not acting despite his letter to him expressing concern over the spectrum allocation process.
"He may have made a mistake. I would go along with you. I brought it to his notice. He did not understand the import" and he did not act, Nath said to a question whether the then prime minister had made a mistake.
"I was disappointed that the prime minister did not act.... In retrospect and hindsight, gravity and magnitude was not known. It was not known to me and the PM. It is very unfair to say that he knew everything," the former union minister and Singh's party colleague told a TV channel.
His remarks came even as several Congress leaders defended Singh on the 2G issue. The party too downplayed Nath's remarks and rejected the contention that the same had vindicated Rai's argument that Singh could not shirk responsibility for decisions to allocate 2G telecom spectrum and coal blocks.
Asked if things would have been different had Singh acted differently, Nath said "as recommended in my letter, if a group or a cabinet committee was set up, obviously the process would have changed. It required much more sharper and focussed attention".
"If it would not have been left to one minister alone, things would have been different," he told Times Now. Nath said that the CAG came much later and he had written the letter earlier. "We must understand that the CAG report came much later. We did not know that."
Nath dismissed the BJP's charge that 10 Janpath was involved and Sonia Gandhi told the prime minister against pursuing the matter. "The BJP is talking absolutely rubbish. Sonia Gandhi, 10 Janpath did not know what was happening...Only the department knew what was happening not the entire government," he said.
Nath wondered that the CAG "never stumbled upon my letter, which was on record". Replying to a question, he said, "I do not believe that the prime minister knew all the facts. I do not think she knew large parts of the facts."
At the All India Congress Committee briefing, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi rejected the contention that Nath had vindicated Rai's charge. "Nath has said nothing of the sort what Rai said. It's a complete distortion to compare the two...Many people write letters, raise their concerns...Rai is speaking of complicity. Then he should have filed an first information report, become a witness...It is nothing but an exercise in self advancement, self promotion," he said.
Singhvi was referring to former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai's remarks that he felt Singh was part of the decisions to allocate 2G telecom spectrum on first-cum-first serve basis and coal blocks without auction.
"In 2G and coal there is no way he (Singh) can shirk responsibility. In 2G all the letters written by (then telecom minister) A Raja were to him and he was replying to those letters. I got no reply to any letter I wrote to him.
"On one occasion when I called on him, the PM said I hope you don't expect a reply from me, whereas he was replying to Raja twice a day. So how can he be not held responsible for the onus of that decision?," Rai had said.