Home >politics >policy >2G issue: JPC may summon Chidambaram

New Delhi: The joint parliamentary committee (JPC) examining the allocation of second-generation (2G) telecom spectrum may summon finance minister P. Chidambaram to depose before it as the panel’s chairman seeks to resolve an impasse that has seen opposition members boycotting meetings.

JPC chairman P.C. Chacko on Thursday indicated that Chidambaram could be called before the committee. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties want him to summon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Chidambaram.

“There is no precedent of calling the Prime Minister before any parliamentary committee," Chacko told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday. “And I will not set a new precedent but will follow the existing one", which allows him to call the minister.

Chidambaram was finance minister when the spectrum was allocated by the then telecom minister A. Raja in 2008. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, the national audit body, said alleged irregularities in the 2G allocation led to a notional loss of 1.76 trillion.

The BJP, which walked out of two previous meetings, stayed away from the Thursday meeting. It accused Chacko of being “autocratic and non-democratic" for not calling the Prime Minister and finance minister as witnesses before the committee.

The Samajwadi Party, which supports the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from the outside, pressed for the summoning of Chidambaram, said a senior official, who didn’t want to be named. This formula could involve dropping the Prime Minister’s name as a witness, the official said.

“There is no point in attending the meetings of the committee unless you take this important decision and at the earliest," BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said in letter to Chacko on Monday. Sinha said his party has no objection if ministers of the erstwhile, BJP-led Atal Bihari Vajpayee government are called before the committee.

“Similarly the ministers of the UPA government, including the Prime Minister, and finance minister (should) also be called as witnesses," Sinha said. “Your prevarication on the issue only confirms our suspicion that you have no intention of doing so."

Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Gupta, who walked out of the JPC meeting midway, demanded that Chidambaram be called.

In a letter to Chacko, Dasgupta said the finance minister will be able to explain his ministry’s “inability to prevent DoT (department of telecommunications) from unilaterally going ahead with the allocation of 2G licences in spite of opposition from various quarters."

His letter comes after a similar demand was made by the Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury at the 18 September meeting of the JPC.

Liz Mathew of Mint and PTI contributed to this story

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