Former telecom minister and BJP leader Arun Shourie hit back at telecom minister Kapil Sibal for raising aspersions at his stint as the telecom minister in 2003. Shourie mocked Sibal for trying to defend his jailed predecessor A Raja and said such efforts only served to drag the Prime Minister into the net.
“He is not the advocate of the government,” Shourie said on the sidelines of an event in the capital. “Sibal is the advocate of Raja and with every press conference he holds to protect Raja and implicates PM,” he added.
In a desperate effort to deflect part of the blame for the 2G scam onto the BJP-led government that ended in 2004, Sibal had released selected excerpts of a report submitted by former Supreme Court Judge Shivaraj Patil last week. The excerpts had pointed out that the first come, first served policy was first put in place by Shourie in late 2003 — five months before the Congress led government came to power.
Sibal, who said he did not dispute the intention behind the policy — making telecom services affordable — the Judge had found the decision to establish the policy “wrong on procedural grounds.”
“People who are asking questions will have to start answering them,” Sibal said, holding up the Judge’s report and promising that it will be handed over to the investigating agencies. Sibal had also defended Raja claiming that the “problem” lay with the policy introduced by Shourie in November 2003.
Reacting to Sibal’s outburst, Shourie pointed out that Raja has been implicated for not following the ‘first come, first served’ policy put in place by NDA and therefore, the policy cannot be blamed for Raja’s alleged misdeeds.
Shourie said he still supported the principle behind the policy — which gave free spectrum to operators to reduce call rates; but the problem with Raja was that he followed no principle. “He changed the priority list, he advanced the cut-off date,” Shourie pointed out, listing out the alleged violations of the ‘first come, first served’ policy under Raja to favor a select group of license applicants.
Shourie also questioned the neutrality of the “one man committee” that investigated the matter in a record time of four weeks and submitted its report to Sibal last week. Sibal refused to release the full report, but handed out excerpts, particularly those critical of the pre-Congress government.
“A handpicked judge gives the report to the government which is so convenient that they can derail the issue. It is a perversity,” he pointed out.