Even as the Congress has hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition, for attempting to “destabilise the government through ulterior means”, the surfacing of an explanatory note by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to the prime minister has caused further discomfiture for the party.
The note was written to explain the sequence of events that led to the controversial 10-page document prepared by a deputy director of the finance minister, suggesting complicity of the then finance minister P Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum scam.
The note by Mukherjee, written after the controversy over the finance ministry’s note on 2G scam, reiterates the fact that the March 25 letter was written at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office. The note was submitted to both the prime minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi by Mukherjee when he met them individually. This makes it amply clear that the note was the outcome of inter-ministerial discussions and was not prepared by the finance ministry alone.
Written in a chronological format, the note lists the 14 meetings that took place between seven departments, including the ministries of finance, telecom and corporate affairs, and also the department of economic affairs.
Through detailed tables it lists the date of the meeting, the officials present and the issues discussed. This exercise has been done to show that the final preparation of the note was a joint effort and not carried out by the finance ministry on its own.
The note, according to some Congress insiders, while exonerating Mukherjee, could also result in further embarrassment for the government, as an indictment of Chidambaram could be interpreted as a joint ministerial opinion of the government.
Mukherjee is currently in Kolkata and has not commented as yet. He is expected to meet the prime minister on his return.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi continued to lash out at the BJP alleging that it was its “festering frustration” ever since it lost power in May 2004. “The BJP has never digested the loss of power. Coming down from heights of illusion and delights of ‘India Shining’ campaign, they have never been able to digest the fact that they have lost power,” he said, adding the opposition party had made several unsuccessful attempts since then to unseat the UPA “in its naked lust of power and unprincipled politics”.
Singhvi also said the BJP’s demand for Home Minister P Chidambaram’s resignation was baseless. He contended that the finance ministry note on 2G could not have any effect of guilt. “It is absolute cacophony. (They are creating) an ambience of instability. How can a ministry note have an effect on guilt?” The BJP, he added, was “passing judgement” on the home minister by using the verbatim summary of Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy’s arguments in the Supreme Court. “This is totally objectionable.”
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Notably, the government has not touched the basic custom of duty of steel scrap, which is at 2.5%