‘The Congress party is not anybody’s dukaan’

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Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmad tells Kunal Majumder that a JPC probe will only hamper the PAC’s work

Photo: Vijay Pandey

Why is the Congress resisting a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G scam?
Whenever the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) submits a report, it is tabled in the House and then it goes to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is also a constitutional body. The PAC is examining the report. We don’t want to intervene in its work.

Do you think a PAC is enough to investigate the depth of the scam since it does not have investigative powers?
Pranab Mukherjee has suggested that a multi-facility committee be constituted to assist the PAC. It will help in the investigations.

Who is the Congress trying to protect? Even A Raja’s own party, the DMK, seems to have no issue with a JPC now.
The UPA as a combination is of the opinion that the JPC will weaken the PAC. As for the DMK, it has agreed to a JPC only if it examines all telecom deals since 1998. The government hasn’t discussed this so far with our allies so it is difficult for me to comment further on this.

Parliament has been stalled because of the opposition and the government trading blows. As the largest political party, shouldn’t you be walking the extra mile to end the deadlock?
The opposition should remember that it does not have the mandate to run Parliament. That mandate is with the UPA. The opposition has a right to protest if it thinks the government is doing something wrong. But trying to force the government to do what it wants is unacceptable and undemocratic.

The Supreme Court criticised the appointment of PJ Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj had already opposed his appointment. Couldn’t the whole fiasco have been averted?
I will not like to comment on this because the matter is sub judice. The SC has inquired into a few things, and law officers of the government are replying to them.

Now that A Raja is gone, how serious is the government about continuing the probe into the 2G scam?
The PM has categorically mentioned that any wrong doer shall not be spared. The CBI also has told the SC it will complete its investigation in two months and take one month to compile the chargesheet. The investigation will go on.

Raja was referring to policy defects. Do you agree with him?
Yes. From the time he became the minister Raja has maintained that there was an established policy of spectrum allocation, which had started in 1998 during the NDA government. So why is the DMK insisting on an investigation from 1998 onwards? He even told the PM that he followed the existing policy.

While politicians face the flak, corporates seem to get away with everything. The Radia tapes indicate involvement of big business houses. Is the government going soft on corporates?
Investigation will reveal if there is corporate involvement, who the beneficiaries were, etc.

In the tapes, Ranjan Bhattacharya is heard quoting Mukesh Ambani as: “Congress toh aapni dukaan hai”. How do you react to such a statement?
I haven’t heard the tapes. But if anyone thinks that the oldest party of this country, which is responsible for the freedom of the country, could be anybody’s shop, he is completely mistaken.

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