JPC gets into 2G saga, government backs Chidambaram


New Delhi: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Tuesday sought official documents to unravel the story behind the finance ministry note on 2G spectrum that has sparked a new crisis for the government.

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With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi set to consult senior party colleagues afresh Wednesday, the government once again threw its weight behind Home Minister P. Chidambaram.

In a related development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday declined to probe Chidambaram’s role in the issue in response to a petition by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy in the Supreme Court.

Chidambaram is facing demands to quit after a note from the finance ministry suggested that the then finance minister could have prevented the spectrum scandal in 2008 if he had insisted on an auction.

With the issue snowballing into a crisis, the JPC headed by P.C. Chacko of the Congress said it will summon finance ministry officials and seek documents from related ministries as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.

Earlier, JPC members from the opposition ranks slammed the government for not submitting the finance ministry note to them. They called it a “serious lapse”.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sharpened its attack seeking the home minister’s sacking even as the Congress denied there was any rift in the government.

Gandhi, recuperating after a surgery Aug 4, Monday met Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in a bid to tide over growing impression that the two ministers were locked in a silent war.

The CBI Tuesday objected to the central government telling the Supreme Court that it will examine documents given by Swamy indicating that Chidambaram was also involved in fixing the 2G spectrum price.

Swamy sought a CBI probe against Chidambaram alleging the spectrum price was not decided by jailed former communications minister A. Raja alone but was jointly fixed by the two.

The BJP said 2G issue was not the internal matter of the Congress but had led to huge losses to the exchequer.

The BJP also demanded that Manmohan Singh sack Chidambaram for his alleged involvement in the 2G scam.

BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman demanded to know why Chidambaram had in 2008 changed the allocation of 2G spectrum to auction route but in 2007 gave away the spectrum away at 2001 prices.

Defending Chidambaram, Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily denied there was any war within the Congress.

“There is nothing wrong with the government under the dynamic leadership of Manmohan Singh,” Moily told reporters.