Whether the prime minister replied effectively to all the communications received from Subramaniam Swamy and without undue delay in the matter of Swamy seeking his sanction for prosecuting A. Raja is to be decided by the Supreme Court next week. But it is only a side show to the real issue of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s own culpability in letting the UAS licences and 2G spectrum scam happen.
In October 2007, the newspapers had started commenting on unsavoury situation obtaining in respect of the coming allotment of licences and spectrum by the Telecom department under the Telecom and Information Technology ministry headed by A. Raja. The Telecom secretary D.S. Mathur was demonstrably opposed to Raja’s policy of not selling the licences and spectrum through an open auction and remained so till his retirement on the 31st December 2007. As is now well known, an unencumbered Raja made the sale in January 2008 on a variation of first-come, first-served basis at 2001 prices completely ignoring advices from the ministries of Finance and Law and instructions from the prime minister himself. Widespread criticism of Raja’s decision followed in the press, some of the Opposition leaders also took up the matter with the prime minister in 2008 itself. Even then the prime minister took his own time and ordered a CBI inquiry only in November 2009, that is, two years after the newspapers got the whiff of some wrongdoing. I am sure the prime minister’s office would have come to know of it through the Telecom secretary and Cabinet secretary or through the Intelligence Bureau much earlier than the press. Then what can explain this delay of two years in initiating an inquiry by the CBI?
There can be no explanation either for the CBI already having taken a year on the inquiry and not completing it. It is a straight forward case, CBI just had to go through the reasons for policy changes, at times in the face of advices to the contrary, arbitrariness and iniquity of the minister’s decisions, and irregularities in the actual process of sale. If Raja could master the intricacy of the entire process in a few months, the master brains of the country’s premier investigative agency should have done so in half the time. But they don’t seem anywhere near solving the riddle even a year after they were given the brief. Why is the prime minister tolerating the obvious lethargy of the CBI?
Then there this fundamental question Dr. Manmohan Singh should answer – Can the prime minister discipline and dismiss a minister of his only after a CBI inquiry damns the minister’s conduct? Could Dr. Singh not move when there were so many important functionaries making allegations about Raja’s misconduct?
These are but a few questions out of so many the prime minister ought to be asked by the people of India. He has to satisfy us that all along he has been worthy of the high office he has been occupying. It’s not easy now but he must give it a sincere try.