JPC clean chit to Manmohan, Chidambaram in 2G issue

New Delhi, Sep 27 (IANS) After two-and-half years, a parliamentary panel Friday finally gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of any wrongdoing while blaming former telecom minister A. Raja in the controversial 2G spectrum allocation issue, said informed sources.

The joint parliamentary committee looking into the 2G spectrum allocation adopted its report by a majority vote, its chairman P.C. Chacko told reporters but refused to divulge its contents as it is a confidential document.

According to the sources, the report also refutes the assessment of the then Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai that losses worth a whopping Rs.1.76 lakh crore were incurred in the allocation of these licenses.

As parliament is not in session, the report, along with the dissent notes, will be submitted to Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar by October-end, said Chacko.

After that, it can be made public, he said.

According to Chacko, out of the 27 members present and voting, 16 supported the report while 11 opposed it. Three members were absent.

Among those who opposed are members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI), AIADMK, DMK and Biju Janata Dal.

These members can submit a dissenting note to the chairman by Oct 10, which will be included in the final report.

The adoption of the report ends a two and half years saga of charges and counter charges, boycotts and bickering since the panel was set up on March 4, 2011.

The draft report had been circulated among the members five months ago but could not be adopted as the panel was divided over the issue.

Chacko said some members wanted the draft report to be further discussed citing shortcomings in the procedures but he did not allow it.

In May this year, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had rejected the opposition demand for removal of Chacko as the JPC for giving a clean chit to the prime minister and the finance minister.

The speaker also rejected the demand of six Congress members for removal of three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members - Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Ravi Shankar Prasad - from the panel saying there was conflict of interest.

The JPC meeting April 25 to finalise the draft report was postponed due to the death of Trinamool Congress MP Ambica Banerjee.

The same day as many as 15 opposition members, including former UPA allies DMK and Trinamool Congress, wrote separate letters to the speaker that they had "no confidence" in Chacko as the panel chief and he should be removed.

In a counter-attack, six Congress members wrote to the speaker seeking the removal of the BJP members from the committee.

Before that the BJP members had boycotted the panel meetings demanding the prime minister be called as witness but later started attending the meetings.


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