Almost a month after his acquittal in the crucial 2G spectrum scam, former telecom minister A Raja's "tell-all book" on the case is likely to be released soon. Titled 2G Saga Unfolds, Raja, in the book, claims that former prime minister Manmohan Singh was repeatedly misinformed by his advisors and despite approving Raja's telecom policy, chose to remain a passive observer even when the DMK leader was arrested and jailed for 15 months.
Raja's book is likely to spark another round of political controversy. Raja, who was at the time of the scam a DMK minister, spent 15 months in Tihar Jail after he was sacked as a minister. In the 200-page book which is being published by Penguin India, Raja chronicles crucial events in the 2G case and trains his guns on the then Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai and Manmohan.
The book, reported News18.com, also slammed Rai, whose report formed the basis of the alleged 2G spectrum scam. Rai's report, which took the wind out of the Manmohan-led UPA II government, was a "a mixture of inappropriate legal interpretations, incongruous comparisons and flippant allegations," the book claimed.
"It is my conviction consequent to the whole experience of the trial that there was political motivation to kill UPA-II and Rai’s was the shoulder on which the gun was placed," Raja wrote. "Rai was the 'sutradhaar' who created the devious apparition… His report is mere trash, which is unanimously deemed fit for the dustbin and his statements would not have stood test of cross-examination," Raja alleged, adding that the former CAG should be called as a witness in the criminal case filed against him.
Raja was accused of misleading Manmohan about the changed procedure for spectrum allocation. The special court, however, found no evidence in the allegations and blamed two officials in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) at the time for misleading Manmohan.
Reports said that the book claimed Manmohan didn't have any clue about the CBI raids with regard to the spectrum allocation.
"On October 22, 2009 (after CBI raided telecom ministry and offices of some telecom operators) I met the Prime Minister in his office in South Block at around 7 pm. TKA Nair (the then principal secretary in the PMO) was also present. People will find it hard to believe that the PM was quite surprised when I told him about the CBI raids," Raja wrote.
The former telecom minister claimed that during his tenure in UPA-II, Raja fought against telecom lobbies to draft a "just spectrum auction policy", but one day he received a letter from the PMO, as the policy draft was in its final stages. The contents of that letter matched the business interests of the lobbies, Raja wrote in the book.
"This makes me wonder whether this letter was indeed drafted by the PMO… It is still a puzzle to me as to what could have prompted the PM to send that letter to me… With all due respect, I am of the opinion that such a letter bearing the PM's signature should never have been sent," he says. Among many claims made in the book, one is that the PMO was closely monitoring "this matter and following up on it proving false the allegation that the PM was misled or kept in the dark."
Manmohan privately confessed to have been influenced by articles appearing in the press, the book claimed.
Here are a few excerpts from the book, a copy of which was accessed by CNN-News18:
"Unfortunately, neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister came forward...to back my legitimate position…Dr Manmohan Singh’s palpable silence in relation to defending my wholly justified actions especially when the governing bodies (CVC, CBI, JPC, Supreme Court) were refusing to hear my defence felt to me like a silencing of our nation’s collective conscience."
"I came to Delhi from Chennai on the evening of the 14th of November. When I landed in Delhi around 9.00 pm, T.R. Baalu informed me that I could resign as per the advice of our party leader. While on the way to my official residence 2A, Motilal Nehru Marg I sought an appointment with the PM. I called in my PA, prepared my resignation letter and then went to the PM’s residence. The Prime Minister appeared to be gloomy and perturbed. He offered me tea and I handed him my resignation letter."
"He spoke dejectedly about the whole situation, the oral observations of the Supreme Court and about his name having been unduly dragged down. The Prime Minister touched upon the introduction of 3G service to the nation and agreed with the impropriety of the CAG’s views. While I was clear and firm as I spoke to him, I was unable to make out anything from the vexed-look of the Prime Minister. Was it due to the condemning remarks from the Supreme Court or due to his assuming that there were irregularities in the files in a big way? I was not sure and could not guess."
On 20 December, Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and 17 other accused were acquitted by a special CBI court which held that the prosecution "miserably failed" to prove the charges. The fifteen other accused allowed to walk free include former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja's erstwhile private secretary R K Chandolia, Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, Unitech Ltd MD Sanjay Chandra and three top executives of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (RADAG) — Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair.
The CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of licences for the 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the top court on 2 February, 2012. Raja and Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, were also let off in another case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate under the money laundering law arising out of the 2G scam. In the packed courtroom, the judge had said, "I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of the charges against any of the accused."
Besides Raja and Kanimozhi, Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal and seven individuals and nine companies also faced trial in the money laundering case. The trial in the third case, arising out of the 2G scam probe, was conducted against Essar promoters — Ravi Kant Ruia and Anshuman Ruia — and six others. The CBI had named them in its charge sheet on 12 December, 2011, alleging they had cheated the Department of Telecommunication by using Loop Telecom as a "front" to secure 2G licences in 2008.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jan 11, 2018 10:18 AM | Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 10:22 AM