Nothing to hide: PM Manmohan Singh in response to Yashwant Sinha's letter

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday responded to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha's letter, urging him to appear before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) panel in the 2G case investigation, saying that he has "nothing to hide" in the matter.

In response to Sinha's letter, Singh was quoted by the CNN IBN as saying, "I have received your letter of April 1, 2013 regarding the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking into the 2G matter. You are aware that all pertinent records and documents available with the Government have already been placed at the disposal of the JPC."

Earlier BJP MP Sinha in a letter to Singh had asked the prime minister to appear before the JPC to clear his name following Raja's communication to the committee.

In the letter, Sinha had said any hesitation on part of prime minister to appear before the JPC will prove that he had "something to hide" and claimed that Raja had leveled serious allegations against the prime minister and finance minister in his communications to the JPC.

Singh in his response added, "I have said from the beginning that neither the Government nor I have anything to hide in this matter. The decision as to what evidence should be sought and which individuals should be asked to appear before the JPC is a matter that needs to be decided internally by the JPC and its Chairman."

Sinha had also said in the letter that prime minister may suggest to the finance minister to make an offer to appear before JPC and also request JPC chairman P.C. Chacko to call Raja as a witness before the committee.

War of words

On Tuesday, a war of words broke out between the Congress and the BJP over the functioning of the JPC examining the 2G spectrum issue.

Sinha said a day after he wrote to the PM that the JPC was functioning in a "scandalous" manner.
While JPC chairman P.C. Chacko termed it a political stunt, the Congress said Sinha should make suggestions to the panel only.

"The way in which JPC proceedings are being conducted by its chairman, it is scandalous, to say the least," Sinha said about Chacko.

Sinha said that the JPC had not met in two months and that time has been "wasted" in inquiring into matters from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

"For over two months, a meeting of the JPC has not been called. Various members, including me, have been demanding a meeting of the JPC," Sinha said.

"The JPC was constituted to look in the 2G scam. It happened in 2008. But the ruling coalition insisted that an inquiry should be done from 1998. We spent a long time looking into issues between 1998 and 2004," he said.

He also said that not allowing former telecom minister Raja to depose before the JPC was a denial of justice.

"Mr. A. Raja has written a letter to the JPC chairman, to the Lok Sabha speaker, demanding that if he appears before the JPC, he could testify. He is being denied an opportunity," Sinha said.

"He has cast serious aspersions on the conduct of the prime minister, on the conduct of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram... This is denial of natural justice to Raja, not to call him to the JPC to answer questions and offer explanations to questions members of JPC may have," he said.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told Times Now news channel: "There is a Joint Parliamentary Committee (on the 2G scam) in progress at this point. Since I was a member of this committee, I do not want to comment on its proceedings. Sinha is a member of the same committee. Whatever they (the BJP) want to articulate, it would be much more appropriate if they do so within the confines of that committee."

Members of the BJP had earlier boycotted the JPC, demanding that the prime minister and the finance minister be called to depose before it but later gave up their demand.

Raja too wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Chacko that he be allowed to depose before the parliamentary panel.

Tewari added that the committee was in the process of writing its report. "It is clearly a question of the cart before the horse," he said.

On the BJP's demand for calling the prime minister to depose before the JPC, Tewari said: "This demand was raised in the committee and was rejected there itself." (With inputs from the Agencies)