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Manmohan Singh could have stopped 2G scam: Vinod Rai

DC | PAWAN BALI
Published Sep 15, 2014, 11:21 am IST
Updated Mar 31, 2019, 4:37 am IST
Kamal Nath warned ex-Prime Minister, claims Mr Rai
Mr Rai was also critical of the coalition politics under Dr Singh and suggested that he was more interested in remaining in power. (Photo: PTI)
 Mr Rai was also critical of the coalition politics under Dr Singh and suggested that he was more interested in remaining in power. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: “Dear Shri Raja, I have received your letter regarding recent developments in the telecom sector,” was the “template response” from the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to former telecom minister A. Raja’s letter informing about his intent to allocate 2G spectrum “that shook the government and the country”.

This is revealed by former CAG Vinod Rai in his forthcoming book Not Just An Accountant.

 

“If only Prime Minister Manmohan had responded differently; if only he had instead said — ‘I have received your letter. Please do not take any precipitate action till we or the GoM (group of ministers) have discussed this. Such a letter would have changed the course of UPA-II,” writes Mr Rai. He says it is obvious from the exchange of letters between Mr Raja and Dr Singh that Dr Singh was indeed aware of Mr Raja’s intentions as far back as November and December 2007. He notes that had Prime Minister insisted on transparency “the course of political history of this country would have been different.”

Infact, Mr Rai reveals that then commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath had warned the Prime Minister about “sudden and alarming developments in the telecom sector” and had suggested that a GoM be asked to comprehensively study all the issues facing the telecom sector.

Read: India held captive by crony capitalism: Vinod Rai

“He (Dr Singh) chose, for reasons which can only be speculated, to ignore the warning signals. He failed to direct his minister to follow his advice, the counsel of the ministers of law and finance and the commerce minister Kamal Nath’s suggestion that the issue be brought to a GoM for threadbare discussion,” writes Mr Rai. He points out that such action permitted a finite national resource to be gifted at a throwaway price to private companies.

Infact Dr Singh had initially in both 2G spectrum and coal allocation asked that auction process should be considered for giving national resources to private firms, but was over-looked.

Talking about the CAG report on 2G which had pegged the loss at Rs 1.74 lakh, Mr Rai says that issue such as whether the department was on firm ground in its findings, facts and figures repeatedly “dogged us”.

“What would be the reactions and the consequences? Obviously there would be a backlash. We decided to take the plunge, as not doing so would have left all of us with a lifetime of remorse and guilt,” he writes.

After the report was tabled in the Parliament, Mr Rai met Dr Singh at a function in Vigyan Bhavan.

“He (Dr Singh) expressed to me his disagreement regarding our conclusions in the report. I mumbled my usual defence. He was visibly upset. Silence from my side was called for,” writes Mr Rai.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is under fire from the former CAG Vinod Rai over the 2G spectrum scam and Coalgate, on Sunday said he has done his “duty” and refused to respond to charges levelled against him.

“I, indeed, did my duty. Well, I do not want to comment on other people what they have written,” Mr Singh told reporters on the sidelines of an event here to celebrate the publication of a book titled Strictly Personal: Manmohan and Gursharan, authored by his daughter Daman Singh.

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