A discussion on the government's motion for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the 2G scam brought the entire Opposition to its feet and former BJP minister Yashwant Sinha even demanded that Pranab Mukherjee "take back the resolution," asking "is this (JPC) a charity to us?"
A BJP member said that the rules do not permit levelling of charges against any party without prior permission from the Speaker and insisted that Speaker Meira Kumar overrule Sibal's comments.
Mukherjee, the ever-green trouble-shooter of the Congress, stepped in to plead with the BJP not to lose sight of the consensus resolution and the collective decision to adopt the motion after a short discussion.
Sibal appeared to be in a provocative mood right from the start as he started with a charge on Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj, who had just finished, that she knew how to turn "jhooth ko sach aur sach ko zooth" (a lie into a truth and a truth into a lie). After the inevitable protests from the BJP benches, he withdrew the remarks, saying "I am sorry, I apologise; I did not mean any offence against her."
Sibal asserted that the government had not been able to put its view point on the controversial CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report as the Opposition was up in arms even before the report was tabled in Parliament on November 16 and then the Opposition did not allow discussion to enable the government to clarify its stand.
Sibal, who took over after then telecom minister A Raja resigned, asserted that there can not be any loss to the exchequer just because the spectrum was not auctioned in 2007-2008 as he claimed "no company has ever paid for spectrum" before the 3G spectrum auction and that the telcom companies were getting the start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz without any charge or auction since 1998 on the first-come-first-served
policy that was followed by Raja.
Referring to Swaraj's taunts at his claims of "zero loss" in the 2G spectrum allocation by Raja, Sibal asserted that the UPA government had only followed the policy initiated by the NDA regime to give spectrum on the first-come-first served policy.
"The CAG presumed loss interpolating 3G prices, had there been auction. But since the question of auction did not arise, the question of loss also does not arise," Sibal said, stressing that Swaraj would not have levelled charge on him if she had read his statement in full.
On her taunt as to why Raja is languishing in the judicial custody if nothing was wrong and there was no massive loss to the exchequer, Sibal said the same CAG that attributed the loss of Rs 36,993 crores out of Rs 1.76 lakh crores to the spectrum allotted beyond 6.2 MHz had also calculated loss of Rs 12,214 crores in the same band allocation during
the NDA regime. "If BJP is responsible for the loss identified by CAG, who should go to jail," he asked.
It was at this stage that BJP veteran Jaswant Singh intervened to suggest that the telecom policy and its interpretations by successive governments should better be left for the JPC to examine and Sibal was free to appear before the JPC.
Refusing to be cowed down until the entire BJP rose in protest and made him to sit down, Sibal tried to justify his deviation to bring in matters like the Tehelka expose of the Kargil coffin scam and secret defence document leaked to one R V Pandit by then defence minister George Fernandes, asserting that he was "duty-bound to respond" when the leader of Opposition had deviated from the resolution to bring in issues like Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Society scam and ISRO S- band spectrum deal..