New Delhi, Feb 16: Launching a scathing attack on the government for "loot" of public money through the 2G spectrum allocation and other scams, Left parties today took Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to task for equating the loss with subsidising foodgrains to the poor.
"On two vital issues confronting the nation and the people, that is corruption and price rise, the Prime Minister has virtually thrown up his hand saying nothing much can be done. This is very unfortunate," CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters here.
"This is something that is completely unacceptable. Subsidising the poor is one aspect but subsidising the rich and saying that it is necessary, is just naked loot of the country," he said.
Noting that Singh had said he was ready to appear before any parliamentary panel even though the UPA was against a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2G spectrum scam, Yechury said, "If you are ready to appear before JPC or any committee then why did you allow the entire winter session to be washed out."
He said Singh "virtually tried to justify" the spectrum scam by "comparing" it with the subsidies being given on foodgrains, fertiliser and kerosene oil.
Yechury was referring to remarks made by the Prime Minister during his 70-minute interaction with editors of electronic media here.
The CPI(M) leader said, "In other words he (Singh) has actually admitted to the fact that his government has been subsidising the corporate sector by giving away national assets like the spectrum in throwaway prices."
"The fact remains that the government did not collect what was due (in 2G spectrum allocation), which was also a loss," he said, adding that the presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore could have provided food security to every Indian for two full years.
In the same vein, CPI National Secretary D Raja said Singh had sought to "explain" the 2G scam by asking if subsidies on foodgrains could be called a loss.
"He should explain how corporate houses made such huge profits. It was virtually a loot. Prime Minister did not answer that question. That is totally strange and that too from a Prime Minister who is himself an economist," he said.
Maintaining that the Prime Minister did not say "a word against corporate houses which looted money", Raja said his answer on ISRO's S-band allocation was not convincing. Besides, Singh did not properly explain the steps to check price rise.
On the Opposition-UPA standoff in Parliament, he said Singh blamed the Opposition for disrupting the entire winter session. "What was the Government's role? He says Government was making honest efforts. What has he done so far?" he posed.
Yechury also dismissed Singh's assertion that action will be taken within 90 days against people involved in Commonwealth Games scam, saying "we have heard these things many times before."
The CPI(M) Politburo member said the Prime Minister did know about the irregularities in the spectrum allocation as early as in 2007 when the Left parties, which were outside supporters of the UPA-I government, had written to him pointing this out.
His party colleague Brinda Karat said, "It is absolutely shocking that the Prime Minister holds a press conference. The country expect him to come out absolutely clearly and strongly that what happened with 2G scam was wrong and that he regrets the wrong-doing."
"But what did he say? On one hand, he actually defended both the policies and the procedures (of 2G spectrum allocation) and even the immediate sale of equity of two companies through huge amounts. He actually defended it saying this was just a way of raising funds from the market."
She said when the Supreme Court and the CBI were waiting for the government to take action against the companies which got the licences illegally, "the Prime Minister, in fact, almost put out a defence for them."
Singh also said there were coalition compulsions, Karat added. PTI