Chidambaram jokes his way out of 2G queries


New Delhi: Pestered with uncomfortable questions relating to the 2G controversy, Home Minister P. Chidambaram Friday joked with mediapersons that he suffered from short-term memory loss and was poor in counting.

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“I have a very short memory and I cannot recollect,” Chidambaram joked at his monthly press conference here when reporters asked if he had at any stage during the week-long row offered to resign over a note prepared by the finance ministry that blamed him for not getting the valuable spectrum auctioned.

“Along with short memory, I am also poor in counting. Naturally, I am learning numeracy now,” he said to a query on how many times he had offered to quit and whether he had done so at least once.

“This is not a question I have to answer. The question does not relate to the home ministry. I am addressing you as home minister now,” he said when reporters persisted with their questions on the finance ministry’s note and the perceived tug-of-war between him and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

The note sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by the finance ministry on March 25 suggested that the spectrum allocation could have been auctioned had Chidambaram, as the then finance minister, insisted on it.

After a week-long logjam while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was away at the United Nations in New York, a truce was called Thursday night with Mukherjee denying the note reflected his views on the 2008 spectrum allocation and Chidambaram accepting it and announcing that the matter stood closed.

The Comptroller and Auditor General report on 2G spectrum has pegged the perceived loss to the exchequer at Rs.1.72 lakh crore for not auctioning the airwaves.