New Delhi: Stepping up its attack, BJP today accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of being involved in a "conspiracy of silence" over alleged corruption in the second-generation mobile telephony spectrum allocation and demanded answers from him on how he permitted the "loot" to take place "right under his nose".
"It is curious that ministers and Congress leaders have suddenly come to the defence of the prime minister over the 2G mobile bandwidth scam. This sudden playing of Raag Darbari cannot hide one stark fact that it is a glaring case where he is patiently involved in the conspiracy of silence," BJP chief spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad told reporters here.
Apart from demanding several answers from the prime minister, the main opposition party also demanded the arrest of former telecom minister A Raja as well as the bureaucrats allegedly involved in the 2G mobile bandwidth scam, which has reportedly led to loss of Rs1.76 lakh crores to the exchequer.
Reading out the contents of the letters exchanged between Raja and the prime minister in 2007 over "complaints and discrepancies" that had emerged in the 2G mobile bandwidth allocation, Prasad said the latter was answerable to the nation as to why he did not call for the entire file (of 2G mobile bandwidth) himself and record his displeasure when such blatant violations were taking place.
Prasad said the CBI began probe in the matter in October 2009 and in its interim report found that a scam to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore had taken place.
"Why was the CBI not allowed to interrogate former telecom secretary. How did all this take place right under your nose? The prime minister brought the integrity standards to an all time low by forcing the appointment of then Telecom Secretary as CVC. If you (PM) are a man of integrity, then how will you remove this stain?", the BJP leader said.
The BJP also charged the prime minister with "looking the other way" when "there was confirmed evidence of deliberate under-pricing of the 2G mobile bandwidth" and questioned why he did not order a review the entire allocation process even when the government had earned huge revenue after the 3G spectrum auction earlier this year.
"A scam of this magnitude cannot have taken place without the involvement of the then telecom minister and bureaucrats under him. We demand his arrest and of those who are involved in the financial bungling", Prasad said.
He read out a portion from Raja's letter to the prime minister dated December 26, 2007 in which the axed minister blames the Cellular Operators Association of India for filing cases in the Delhi High court and said "Raja's reply that he was taking pre-emptive and pro-active decisions is baffling".
A united opposition led by BJP has not let Parliament function this winter session so far mainly over the 2G mobile bandwidth allocation issue and has been vociferously demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the matter.
On the prime minister's appeal today to all political parties to allow Parliament to function and the ruling party was ready for a debate and discussion, Prasad said "we want to remind the Prime Minister that we have debated, re-debated and discussed. We want action and those responsible to the arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act".
He was also critical of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for calling a meeting of opposition leaders for a solution on the issue and giving assurance that he would revert to them after consultation with the prime minister and "till date he has not conveyed any formal proposal to enable the opposition to take a final view".
To a question if the BJP felt the issue of attorney general Gulam Vahanvati representing the prime minister in the Supreme court in the 2G mobile spectrum case after he had earlier represented A Raja as a matter of conflict of interest, Prasad said he would not like to comment on a lawyer's manner of conduct.
Taking another swipe at the prime minister, he raked up the issue of the Supreme Court seeking an explanation from the PMO over the contentious 2G mobile bandwidth issue and said, "this must be the first time in the history of India when the Supreme court has passed such a remark on a prime minister". PTI