Former Cab Sec hints Pranab ministry drafted note against PC

K M Chandrasekhar

Deposing before a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), former Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar today said that a note dated March 25, 2011 on the 2G spectrum originated from the Finance Ministry and was sent to the Prime Minister's Office though the idea had emanated from the Cabinet Secretariat.

The note, prepared when Pranab Mukherjee was heading the Finance Ministry, sought to suggest that P Chidambaram, as Finance Minister, could have insisted on auction of the 2G spectrum.

Chandrasekhar was Cabinet Secretary for four years, from June 2007 to June 2011. The JPC is examining the pricing and allocation of telecom licences between 1998 and 2009 in the backdrop of the 2G spectrum allocation scandal.

Briefing reporters, JPC chairman P C Chacko quoted Chandrasekhar as saying that the intention was to present a "holistic picture in a chronological manner" so that all wings of the government could form a "common view." But the former Cabinet Secretary felt that "certain assumptions and points," which were made in the note in addition to facts, "could have been avoided".

Chandrasekhar told the JPC that it was not expected that there would be any inputs from the Cabinet Secretariat. "I never asked for or saw the note prepared in the matter by the Ministry of Finance since I considered it to be an internal note of that Ministry," he was quoted as having said.

To queries on why Chandrasekhar never got to see a note prepared at his behest, Chacko reiterated what the former bureaucrat had told the panel and maintained that it was not routed through the Cabinet Secretariat and was sent by the Finance Ministry directly to the PMO.

Chandrasekhar said that he had written a note to the Prime Minister on December 4, 2007 suggesting that the licence fee for 2G spectrum allocation be enhanced to Rs 35,000 crore. The Prime Minister, according to Chandrasekhar, had asked him to look into the issue of financial implications of the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) over the allocation of 2G Spectrum in the wake of media reports and the letters which he had received.

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