The ongoing struggle within the Congress party to apportion blame for the 2G scam became fiercer yesterday. A leading TV channel put out an exclusive report showing documents to prove that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh after Mr. A Raja’s intention against auctioning the 2G licenses had become known ordered the PMO to prepare an alternate note. The note was accordingly prepared in early January 2011 by Mr. Pulak Chatterjee who was formerly a trusted aide of UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi but is currently the Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Mr. Chatterjee in his note made several recommendations including the decision to auction the Spectrum 2G licenses. The note was passed on to Mr. TKA Nair who was then Principal Secretary in PMO and is currently its advisor with the rank of a Minister of State. The revelation of this note considerably diluted the PM’s responsibility by indicating his effort to overturn former Telecom Minister Mr. Raja’s decision to dispense with the auctioning of the 2G licenses.
However, before action could be taken on the alternate note Mr. Raja within days pre-empted it by issuing the licenses. It suggests that Mr. Raja may have been apprised of the new note. If so, who could have advised him? The contents of the note originally were known to Mr. Nair and Mr. Pulak Chatterjee. Possibly someone leaked the note. Most surprisingly, after this significant exclusive report broke over the TV channel, no newspaper reproduced it next day, including the daily newspapers aligned to the TV channel!
Meanwhile Mr. Anna Hazare after a period of comparative peace between his Team and the government suddenly dashed off a new letter to the PM threatening to start a fresh fast and agitation if by the last day of the winter session of Parliament the Lokpal Bill was not passed. The Information and Broadcasting Minister Mrs. Ambika Soni reflected the surprise of many when she wondered what might have provoked Mr. Hazare to issue his threat when apparently nothing new had occurred.
Other elements are also busy adding fuel to the fire. In the third week of October the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Anna Hazare, the Union government and the Maharashtra government on a petition filed by an advocate Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma. The petitioner sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged siphoning of funds given to Mr. Anna Hazare’s Hind Swaraj Trust. The petitioner alleged: "It is a clear case of fraud, criminal breach of trust upon the state treasury played by respondent number four (Hazare), coupled with his associates/groups, politician friends for which despite having the Sawant Commission report of 2005, which disclosed the true admitted facts, state/central governments took no action till date."
Mr. Sharma’s exertions did not end there. Within a fortnight, at the start of this month he has filed a fresh Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court demanding that the government take steps to recover 2.5 billion Francs allegedly held in the account of late Rajiv Gandhi in a Swiss bank account. He annexed a scanned copy of the report published in a 1991 issue of a Swiss magazine which provided details of the amount allegedly lying in the name of Rajiv Gandhi. Mr. Sharma has close links with the Congress party, particularly with former Law Minister and current Karnataka Governor Mr. HR Bhardwaj. It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court responds to the two petitions. November could be an eventful month.