2G note: Government firefights, Pranab to clarify


New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held separate meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday as the government stepped up its efforts to end the row arising out of a controversial finance ministry note on 2G spectrum and the opposition’s unrelenting attack on Home Minister P. Chiddambaram.

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A series of meeting began from early morning with Mukherjee calling on Sonia Gandhi.

Congress sources said the Congress chief, who had also held consultations with Defence Minister A.K. Antony and her political secretary Ahmed Patel, stressed on the need to end the controversy. The meetings were held at her 10 Janpath official residence.

“Efforts are on at the party and government level to defuse the situation,” a Congress leader said.

Mukherjee in the evening met Manmohan Singh, who had returned a little earlier after a visit to quake-hit Sikkim. The meeting, at the prime minister’s 7 Race Course Road residence lasted 20 minutes and was also attended by Chidambaram.

Sources said Law Minister Salman Khurshid also spoke to Chidambaram.

The opposition also stepped up its attack on the government, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari alleging that all ministers were involved in the scam.

“The situation of the government is very bad. (Jailed former telecom minister A.) Raja has said in his affidavit that he did not take the decision alone. All senior ministers, including the then finance minister had agreed (on the spectrum pricing),” Gadkari told reporters.

The new twist in the 2G spectrum allocation came after a March 25 note to the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) from the finance ministry surfaced stating that the airwaves could have been auctioned in 2008 if Chidambaram, who was then the finance minister, had “stuck to his stand”.

The note led to speculation that Mukherjee and Chidambaram were at loggerheads on the controversial issue.

Mukherjee’s meeting with Gandhi came a day after he wrote a detailed letter to the prime minister clarifying his role on the raging controversy.

A copy of the letter was sent to Gandhi.

This is the second meeting Mukherjee had with Gandhi. He had earlier met her Monday. Chidambaram too met her Monday and the prime minister Wednesday.

Mukherjee in his letter said that the March 25 note was actually part of a background paper prepared after inter-ministerial consultations.