New Delhi: Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) cannot be held responsible for the irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation as the UPA is not running a micro-managed form of government.
“I don’t think that the Prime Minister should be behaving as the super minister, supervising everything that his colleague does...,” Ahluwalia told TV channel CNN-IBN.
He said this in response to a question on whether former telecom minister A Raja followed the Prime Minister’s advice to be cautious and transparent while giving licences and 2G spectrum in 2007-2008.
On the letter written by the Prime Minister himself on 2 November 2007, asking Raja to exercise fairness and transparency in the spectrum allocation, he said the letter was written since it concerned the public.
Ahluwalia clarified that the PM had been assured that policies were being followed and deviations, if any, had the approval of the solicitor general.
“The minister (Raja) subsequently responded and assured him (Manmohan Singh) that he was following the established policy and there was some departure, which I think he brought to the attention of the PM and said that these had the support and approval of the solicitor general,” he said.
“Now in an environment like that, remember, if something wrong or unfair is being done by a ministry, people affected take the matter to court, they protest..., if the PM keeps monitoring, then we are not running a Cabinet government, we are running something like a micro-managed form of government,” he said.
Raja has said in the court that the Prime Minister and the then finance minister P Chidambaram were in the loop and the issue of induction of foreign partners by Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB) and Unitech Wireless (now Uninor) by way of issuance of fresh shares was discussed with them.
Since then, the opposition has been attacking the PMO over its role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam and has demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister.
“The PM is not micro managing every decision before it’s taken. So whilst I think 2G clearly became a problem, I don’t think it became a problem because it was mishandled at the PMO level before all these decisions were taken,” he said.
Ahluwalia was of the view that various ministries were responsible for carrying out the affairs of the government and the Prime Minister alone cannot be held responsible for everything.
“There is an entire machinery (in government) and it is their job to make sure that they do a good job. Today hundreds of letters go to the PM, I’m sure, alleging wrong doing everywhere. If the PM were to become responsible for personally ensuring this doesn’t happen, he would simply have no time to do anything at all,” he said.
Asked whether the PM was aware of the correspondence between the finance ministry and the Department of Telecom (DoT), where the former was pressing for auction rather than first-come-first-serve policy, Ahluwalia said there was no reason for Singh to be aware of communications between two ministries.