New Delhi, April 30 The war between the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) draft report on the alleged 2G scam intensified Friday with Home Minister P. Chidambaram terming it as a "gross distortion" of facts committed by panel chief Murli Manohar Joshi.
Lashing out at the BJP's Joshi, Chidambaram said in a statement that his Jan 15, 2008 note to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not about the entry fee for 2G spectrum allocation "but only usage charges (that) even a person with average intelligence would have noticed".
"Joshi's draft report was a gross distortion of the note and mischievously commented I had pleaded with the prime minister to treat the matter as closed," Chidambaram said.
He claimed that "his note dealt with spectrum usage charges alone and suggested three measures for raising revenues, including a measure to raise additional revenues from licencees who held spectrum over and above the start-up spectrum by charging, prospectively the price discovered in the auction".
The PAC draft report, which was leaked to the media, on the alleged financial irregularities in the 2G spectrum allocation criticised Chidambaram, who was then finance minister, saying the committee was "shocked and dismayed" to note that in his note he acknowledged that spectrum price should be based on its scarcity value and efficiency of usage.
But Chidambaram later suggested that the matter be closed, according to the 270-page PAC report that was leaked to the media Wednesday. It pulled up Manmohan Singh for giving an "indirect green signal" to jailed former communications minister A. Raja to execute his "unfair and dubious designs" in selling scarce radio waves at throwaway prices.
Chidambaram refuted the charge. "The draft report did not say what the 'matter' was. (It) also deliberately and mischievously omitted the suggestion regarding charging the licensees prospectively."
At a press conference, asked if he was referring to Joshi as a person with below average intelligence, Chidambaram smilingly replied: "I did not say that. I am talking about persons like me with average. I was referring to myself."
Meanwhile, Joshi was ready to submit the report to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar Saturday, when the term of the 22-member panel expires. This despite the fact that the controversial document was rejected by 11 members from the Congress, DMK, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The BJP challenged Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues to say the contents of the PAC report were not based on facts and said the party will go to people on the issue.
Its leader Yashwant Sinha, a member of the PAC, said the Congress and its supporters had made a mockery of Thursday's committee meeting by rejecting the report after Joshi adjourned the proceedings.
He said it was "a coalition of the corrupt". I challenge the prime minister, (Kapil) Sibal, Chidambaram and the entire system who were guiding yesterday, let them say that the conclusions are not based on facts," Sinha told reporters.
He charged Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram with "direct complicity" in not preventing Raja from taking controversial decisions in 2G spectrum allocation.
The home minister in his press conference refused to respond to Sinha's remarks saying "why should I respond".