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BJP charges Manmohan with conspiracy of silence, culpable inaction and gross indifference

Staff Reporter



Ravi Shankar Prasad

MUMBAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday launched a scathing attack on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government on various issues, charging the Prime Minister with “conspiracy of silence, culpable inaction and gross indifference.”

At a press conference here, chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that an “invisible hand” was trying to save the Devas-ISRO S-band spectrum deal. “I salute the media, in particular The Hindu,” for exposing “the scam.”

Citing a news report, he said it was difficult to believe that the Prime Minister was not aware of the deal, as the Devas CEO was meeting officials of the Prime Minister's Office until two weeks before the deal. “S-band is a very sensitive national resource. This is 70 MHz for national security and strategic needs. There is no Raja, no Kalmadi here. The Department [of Space] is directly under the Prime Minister. Now, they say the deal was scrapped in 2010. Why not in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009?” he asked.

Whenever any national resource is sold or leased out, he said, the government of India's approval is mandatory. Addressing the Prime Minister, he asked: “When the S-band deal was decided, weren't you consulted? How is your government run? The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.” He also wanted to know whether the S-band could be allotted without proper bidding or auctioning.

Mr. Prasad said even Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was liable to answer. “The Devas Chairman has said he had written twice to Prithviraj Chavan, who was the Minister of State in the PMO from 2005. He was in charge of space. Mr. Chavan, please explain what steps you took.”

He distributed documents relating to the exchange of letters between the Prime Minister and A. Raja and asked why the Prime Minister did not take any action against the erring Minister. He also asked why the spectrum pricing determination was kept out of the loop of the Group of Ministers. “This [the 2G scam] is the second scam under a clean Prime Minster Mr. Manmohan Singh.”

“A matter of shame”

Mr. Prasad criticised External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna for his gaffe at a U.N. Security Council debate where he read out, by mistake, the speech of his Portuguese counterpart, instead of his own. “This government is directionless. S.M. Krishna's act is a laughable proof of it. The UNSC is an august body. I feel sorry as an Indian. The Foreign Minister represents India. How is it that for such an important meeting, you don't even know your speech?”

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