Sibal's Defence: Govt has Lost all Credibility

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The bizarre defence by Kapil Sibal, the Minster for Telecommunications of the 2G spectrum scam once again underlines the need for a JPC. The Minister by his unprecedented attack on the CAG is trying to undermine the various inquiries that are presently on and influence official agencies. This is totally unacceptable.

In his view, CAG used 2010 prices of 3G for 2008, where the subscriber base and the price of the rupee is different. Strangely enough, he does not – by the same logic -- see any problem of using 2001 prices for licenses when there were only 4 million subscribers in 2008, when the subscriber base was 300 million! For the Minister's information, not only CAG, but also TRAI has suggested using 3G prices (Section 3.82, dated 11th May 2010) for benchmarking 2G spectrum and has also given technical reasons why this can be done.

Kapil Sibal has raised the NDA policy in 1999 of shifting from fixed license fees to revenue sharing and the consequent loss to the exchequer. He has discovered this rather late and it appears only as a defence of the current 2G scam. It was the Left that had questioned successive scams in Telecom – from Sukhram and his infamous case by case approach to NDA shifting to revenue sharing in 1999 and now the 2G scam. Sibal must realise that earlier scams under the Congress or the NDA cannot be used to justify the current 2G scam.

The Left has not only raised the question of culpability of those whose acts have lead to this huge loss to the exchequer but recovering this loss from those corporate houses who have benefited from Raja's 2G largesse. Mr. Sibal's statement is clearly meant to protect the ill-gotten gains that the corporate houses have made by securing 2G license and spectrum at throw-away prices. This is the reason why Sibal is attacking the CAG report.

It is clear from Sibals' defence that the UPA Government is far more deeply involved than just the lone acts of a Raja. Therefore, it is important that a JPC be constituted to go into all the details of the Telecom scam. With Sibal's statement, this Government has lost all credibility that it can carry out any impartial probe on this issue.