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CAG cheif, Rai to appear before PAC: 2G scam
December, 27th 2010

The CAG, whose report on the sale of 2G spectrum had created convulsions within the countrys polity, forcing telecom minister A Raja to put in his papers, will appear before parliaments Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday.

The PAC headed by former BJP president Murli Manohar Joshi had come under fire from the entire Opposition for commencing its hearing on the 2G spectrum allocation scam, thereby undermining their attempt to corner the ruling side for its dogged refusal to set up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the alleged irregularities in the spectrum distribution.

Mr Joshi, in fact, had to appear before a meeting of the NDA, held earlier this month, to explain his side of the story. He assured the alliance members that the PAC would adopt a go slow stance, and not come in the way of the Oppositions campaign.

The PAC has, nevertheless, already held four meetings on the 2G spectrum sale issue, and has lined up several other gatherings ahead of the budget session of parliament. Congress strategists have, on the other hand, flayed the BJP-led NDA for undermining the functioning of crucial parliamentary institutions.

Mondays meeting assumes added significance with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offering to appear before the Committee. But there has been no official word yet about the prime minister making a formal request. The Opposition was quick to criticise the PMs announcement, arguing that he could not chose the forum of his liking to prove his innocence.

A decision to ask CAG Vinod Kumar Rai to appear before the parliamentary committee was taken during its last meeting earlier this month. The committee has already invited views and suggestions on the 2G spectrum allocation.

Taking into consideration the importance of the subject and the nationwide interest evinced in it, the committee has decided to invite memoranda containing views/suggestions from various individuals, experts, associations, institutions, organisations interested in the subject matter, the Lok Sabha Secretariat had said in a notification.

The CAG has quantified revenue loss to the exchequer at up to `1.76 lakh crore, a development that forced Raja to quit as the telecom minister.

The PAC has been examining the subject Recent Developments in the Telecom Sector, including Allocation of 2G and 3G spectrum since June and has asked for views within next 15 days.

The PAC has already obtained some valuable information from the DoT , finance ministry, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and experts in the telecom sector through oral deposition and written submission.

In its last meeting, former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura is understood to have told the panel that all decisions related to spectrum allocation were taken by Raja and he had only carried out the orders. He is understood to have claimed that communication between the PMO and Raja were enough to indicate that decision-making powers were confined only to the minister.

The PAC meeting comes against the backdrop of the CBIs questioning of Raja. The former ministers interrogation was spread over two days, and had lasted 16 hours in all.

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