New Delhi, Feb. 3: The Congress betrayed no signs of nervousness on the eve of the judgment on P. Chidambaram in the 2G case, asserting the Supreme Court hadnt passed any stricture or made adverse observations against him.
The BJP, though, appeared to believe that tomorrows outcome was a foregone conclusion. Chidambarams case is an open and shut one. No court can now give him relief given the tough stand taken by the Supreme Court, Murli Manohar Joshi said today, asked what strategy the BJP would adopt if the special 2G court lets off the Union home minister.
Congress leaders didnt seem to think so, though, and contended that the judgment hadnt offered any negative assessment of Chidambarams role as finance minister when the 2G licences and spectrum were allotted by then telecom minister A. Raja.
The most tangible sign of the Congresss confidence about Chidambaram was the absence of murmurs about his possible successor. Asked who could be the next home minister in case he had to go, a senior leader said: Where is he going? The question of replacement hasnt yet flit through our minds.
Spokesperson Abhisek Singhvi countered the BJPs claims on yesterdays verdict. Petitioners Subramanian Swamy and Prashant Bhusan, backed by the BJP, could not get a single remark, observation or stricture against Chidambaram so far. Still they are talking of indictment of Chidambaram and the Prime Minister.
The Supreme Court has not only desisted from making any adverse remark, it also held them not responsible, directly or indirectly. There are paragraphs, not lines, which say they are not responsible. The BJPs attempt to politicise and sensationalise the verdict is utterly irresponsible, Singhvi added.
Joshi, though, could hear the countdown to Chidambarams exit. Chidambaram cannot escape now. His days are numbered.
The BJP leader underlined how yesterdays verdict was an endorsement of the draft report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that he heads.
The verdict is an endorsement of the draft report of the PAC. It has said what the PAC had already observed in its draft report, said Joshi, whose report had not been accepted by the Lok Sabha Speaker amid opposition from Congress and other members on the panel.
The draft report said pricing of spectrum should have been determined through auction. The Supreme Court has endorsed it. The draft report had called for a probe and cancellation of illegal licences and the court too has cancelled the licences, Joshi said.
The Congress hit back by accusing the BJP of dragging every institution into partisan politics and argued that the Opposition party was being hypocritical and opportunistic in criticising the first-come-first-served spectrum allocation policy despite having started and practised it for years.
Told that the UPA could have abolished the policy, like the way it called a joint session of Parliament to scrap anti-terror law in 2004, Singhvi said: You cant be punished for carrying on with a policy. And the first-come-first-served policy has been declared bad in concept now.
Asked about the sagacity of isolating former telecom minister Raja from the rest of the cabinet for the blame, Singhvi said personal misdeeds do not prove collective failure.
The Congress feels the specific remark in the Supreme Court judgment that the department of telecom ignored the advice of the then finance minister and the Prime Minister would come to Chidambarams rescue and may guide the trial courts thought process.