Chidambaram can't escape political onus of 2G decisions: BJP

 The BJP said Friday that Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was party to all the decisions on spectrum pricing as finance minister in 2008 and can't escape "political and moral culpability" of government decisions that allegedly caused a huge loss to the exchequer.

Reacting after the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking to make Chidambaram a co-accused in the case, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told media persons that until now "who fixed the price, causing loss to the exchequer" has not been identified.

She said the ruling Congress's policy is to "sabotage" the Joint Parliamentary Committee that is examining the government auditor's report on 2G spectrum allocation.

"In the JPC, their policy is to sabotage it - either by using junior members to scream down others by using foul language, or by introducing lists of people who are not core to the debate."

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the finance minister will have to give the reasons for lowering the spectrum pricing in 2008 when market conditions were favourable and hiking it in 2012 when the conditions were adverse.

He said in 2008 the base price of 2G spectrum was determined at Rs.1,600-odd crore "disregarding the advice of finance ministry officials to go for auction. In 2012, when the market conditions are adverse, the base price was fixed at Rs.14,000 crore by a Group of Ministers headed by Chidambaram".

"The question is why was the base price lowered, and does that not constitute loss to the exchequer?" Prasad said, adding that Chidambaram will have to answer for it.
"We are trying to raise it in the JPC and will continue to question," he said.

Earlier, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the United Progressive Alliance government should not celebrate the Supreme Court verdict.

"If due to some technical reason or due to lack of evidence a decision has come, government should not celebrate because it is neck deep in corruption," Naqvi said.

Communist Party of India leader and member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking into the 2G spectrum allocation scam Gurudas Dasgupta also said it was not a victory for the government.

"We will make our own decision, depending on what evidence we get. It is not a setback," he said.

In a major relief to Chidambaram, the Supreme Court Friday rejected the plea to make him co-accused along with former communications minister A. Raja in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

Swamy had moved the apex court challenging a Feb 4 order by a trial court rejecting his plea to make Chidambaram co-accused and seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against him.

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