Cong sees ploy in BJP demand to 'shield' corporates in 2G scam

Congress today saw a ploy to "shield" corporates having a stakehold in 2G spectrum allocation in BJP's latest demand to summon the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister before the JPC probing the scam.

"The remit of the JPC extends from 1998 to 2009. There are three stakeholders in this process - the executive, the regulators and the corporates. The executive and regulators have been extensively examined. The corporates are untouched.

"The demand to summon ministers may be a cat's paw to shield the corporates," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told PTI.

His remarks came against the backdrop of JPC member and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's demand to call Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidamabaram before the panel and gain significance as Tewari is a prominent Congress member in the JPC headed by senior party MP P C Chacko.

Tewari in the last meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee had reportedly demanded that the transcript of the Niira Radia tapes be made available to the Committee to understand the politician-corporate nexus.

In his letter to Chacko, Sinha maintained that there can be no problem in "creating a new precedent" by the panel as was done by the JPC in 1992 (for the market scam) when ministers were summoned for evidence.

Referring to the summoning of ministers, Tewari said, "If at all, ministers have to be summoned, then all Telecom and Finance Ministers from 1998 onwards must be called in chronological order. There cannot be any cherry picking.

"There is also a moral dilemma should former Finance Ministers who serve on the JPC be witnesses before the same committee on which they serve? However, that call is best left to their conscience," the Congress spokesman said.

Sinha's letter to the JPC chief came two days after Chacko asked Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to decide on the demand for summoning of Finance Minister P Chidambaram as a witness before the Committee.

Chacko has categorically ruled out summoning of the Prime Minister. However, on summoning of Chidambaram, he has left the matter to the Speaker.

BJP members have also written to the Speaker appraising their point of view. Six of them have been staying away from the JPC meetings for nearly a month, in support of the party's demand for inclusion of Singh and Chidambaram in the list of witnesses to be examined.

Sinha contention was that the 2G JPC is of "special nature" and given its mandate, the panel can modify the rules of procedure.

The BJP leader has argued that it was mandatory to call the Prime Minister as a witness as Singh had taken certain decisions on allotment of 2G licences.

"There are decisions which the Prime Minister has taken which he alone can explain, which cannot be explained properly even by senior officials of his secretariat," the letter said.

Sinha referred to the earlier statement of Singh that he had no hesitation in appearing before the JPC.

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