Amid the controversy over a finance ministry note on Home Minister P Chidambaram’s stand on 2G spectrum allocation, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that the March 2011 note was actually part of a background paper prepared after inter-ministerial consultations.
Mukherjee is said to have pointed out that the background paper had been prepared with the purpose of coordinating the government’s response on the 2G spectrum allocation issue. Officials of several ministries including law, finance and telecom, as also the cabinet secretariat and PMO were involved in the exercise, the finance minister’s letter is said to have noted.
Mukherjee is learnt to have informed party and ministerial colleagues at a late evening meeting that there is nothing new in his letter to the Prime Minister. He has only put in writing what he had told the PM at a meeting in New York on Sunday.
A day after the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) witnessed sharp exchanges, with opposition party members accusing the government of keeping the finance ministry note from the committee, union ministers Pawan Bansal, Rajeev Shukla and V Narayanasamy, accompanied by JPC chairman P C Chacko, called on Mukherjee late in the evening to discuss the issue.
Mukherjee was said to have explained to them that the said finance ministry note was a background paper and it had “nothing new” from what was already in the public domain and, therefore, there was no need to present it in the JPC. Their meeting, however, remained inconclusive and they are likely to have another round of discussion on Thursday to finalise their stand on this issue in the JPC.