The note related to the spectrum licenses written on March 25 implicated Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram when as the Finance Minister he initially opposed the decision not to auction the Spectrum 2G licenses but eventually he inexplicably allowed the decision to stand. This made his role complicit. A subsequent letter by Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to the Prime Minister revealed however that the note had been prepared with inputs from the Law, Finance and Telecom ministries as well as the cabinet secretariat and the PMO. Now through a fresh official leak to the media it is revealed that the original anti-Chidambaram note was issued only on the insistence of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). This was recorded by Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in a two page letter to the PM on September 26 immediately after the two had discussed the issue during their US visit. That letter has been leaked to the media only now.
What does the timing signify?
Obviously this leak is part of the infighting within the Congress. The Finance Minister could not have leaked a note nailing the PM unless Mrs. Sonia Gandhi gave the nod. If this surmise is correct the move to replace the Prime Minister is imminent. It may be pointed out that a financial consultancy outfit based in London in a recent website note claimed that the decision to replace the PM had already been taken. This attracted attention among analysts because the website is run by a member with close family links to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. It might also be recalled that over 80 MPs recently demanded a change of economic policy followed by the PM.
The most recently leaked letter by the Finance Minister clears Mr. Mukherjee’s own role in exposing Mr. Chidambaram by squarely blaming the PM. However, this Byzantine intrigue and inner party attacks are ultimately quite irrelevant. It was earlier pointed out in these columns that the leaked notes proved that all the ministers concerned were aware of what former Telecom Minister Mr. Raja was deciding but did nothing to stop him. This made them all complicit. Section 10 of the Prevention of Corruption Act was quoted to indicate that the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Home Minister and the former Law Minister could all be charged as abettors of corruption and were open to criminal proceedings. Indeed, much earlier correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Raja had been released in a contemporary that clearly proved that the Prime Minister was aware of Mr. Raja’s decisions and had given tacit approval.
Responding to that disclosure it was written in these columns on December 23, 2010:
“Dr Manmohan Singh’s position as Prime Minister has become untenable. He must resign.”
In fact if there was a modicum of genuine democratic functioning in the UPA the PM ought to have accepted constructive responsibility for the 2G spectrum scam when it surfaced and resigned in keeping with the established norms of genuine democracy. It is not just one or two ministers who need to resign. The whole cabinet must go. It is better for this government to go with the little grace yet possible instead of being thrown out in disgrace. By democratic norms the government should resign and seek a fresh mandate from the people. Provided of course the Congress party yet retains some minimal commitment to democracy.