Book Excerpt| 2G Saga Unfolds by A Raja
“It is my contention that the sanctity of the CAG was severely compromised by its then head Vinod Rai. Rai clearly had ulterior motives in overreaching the bounds of his constitutional function. He tried to foist his personal ( or influenced) agenda by sensationalising information and creating the appearance of procedural lapses and financial misappropriation. His presumptive loss figure of I. 7 6 lakh crore has been subsequently debunked but it became engraved in public memory and led to my tribulations. The views and comments of R.P. Singh, a former director general of audit and part of the CAG' s team during the 2G audit have been published widely in the news. Singh told the parliamentary panel investigating the 2G spectrum scam that he had been forced to sign on the CAG's report. He disputed the CAG's presumptive loss calculation, dubbing the figure of 1.76 lakh crore to be 'subjective' and declared that presumptive loss was not part of the accounting code accepted internationally. Responding to cross-examination at the JPC on multiple occasions, Singh said he was only asked to provide inputs for the report, while it was prepared at the CAG headquarters; and that he had deleted the presumptive loss figure from the report, but it was later included by senior officers at the insistence of Rai.
The differences between Singh and the CAG first surfaced when he said that field audit team of the national auditor had calculated the loss figure at Rs 2,645 crore in the draft report and not Rs 1. 7 6 lakh crore. Singh had also emphasised that as the government had taken a policy decision against auctioning spectrum and TRAI had not recommended it, there was in fact zero loss to the exchequer. He opined that the CAG should not have looked into policy decisions taken by the government and that the loss figure of t 1. 7 6 lakh crore was at best the mathematical speculation of an individual with no evidence to support it. However, the political build-up in the 2G case has been so heavy that even this open rebuttal has left Rai quite unscathed. All attempts to clarify the truth to Rai during the CAG audit and even thereafter have been fruitless.
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. It is indeed sad that in spite of having so many intelligence agencies and eminent legal minds at its disposal the UPA-II government could not sense this and only tried to use me as a shield but were still unable to escape the bullet. I admired the strongly worded observation of Justice Amitava Ray in his judgement by which Ms J. Jayalalitha's, (the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) conviction was upheld in the Supreme Court. ''A self-serving conduct in defiance of such solemn undertaking in infringement of the community's confidence reposed in them is therefore a betrayal of the promise of allegiance to the Constitution and a condemnable sacrilege. Not only such a character is an anathema to the preambulor promise of justice, liberty, equality, fraternal dignity, unity and integrity of the country, which expectantly ought to animate the life and spirit of every citizen of this country, but also is an unpardonable onslaught on the constitutional religion that forms the bedrock of our democratic polity." I sincerely hope that I have clearly and factually demonstrated that Rai in his unscrupulous quest for selfaggrandizment betrayed the community confidence and committed condemnable sacrilege.
(source: Har-Anand Publications)
In the aftermath of the Jalianwala Bagh massacre, Colonel Wedgewood MP said in the British Parliament, "If you are to find anything so damning to the reputation of the British you have to go back centuries ... It has not only destroyed that but also destroyed our reputation throughout the world... Even Germany never did anything worse in Belgium." Wedgewood had the fortitude to point out the faults of his own Government and the conviction to confront the moral implications of a travesty of justice. He kept the nation's conscience alive.
The UPA government's and even more so 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. It is also interesting to note what Sanjaya Baru says about Dr Singh and the 2G saga in his book 'The Accidental Prime Minister', "Inevitably, we discussed 2G. My advice to him was that he should defend the policy itself and have the charges against Raja investigated. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, it could be credibly argued, was taking an 'accountant's' view on policy. Several analysts had already said so and that was also the editorial line I had taken at Business Standard. The government's policy had enabled it to offer cheaper telecom services and made it possible for millions of Indians to become connected. The economic and social benefits of the policy far outweighed the revenue loss to the exchequer, which the CAG had focused on. However, the government persisted with its ill-advised 'zero loss' argument (that the deal had caused no revenue loss to the exchequer), revealing how little control the prime minister had over the political narrative." I can only wistfully recall the words of the English author Charles Colton and heed their message, "The greatest friend of truth is time, her greatest enemy is prejudice, her constant companion is humility."
Effective policy-making is rarely a one-step process - successful policies generally take a few iterations to mature. This is especially true in the case of telecom where technology and socio-economic factors play such a massive role and are both evolving at such a rapid pace. The whole difference of opinion related to Telecom Policy boils down to the relative prioritization of telecom as an enabler for the masses versus Telecom as a source of revenue for the government. The fairly nascent history of India's telecom sector has continually highlighted this. Initially telecom operators were burdened with such heavy fees that they were unable to invest in infrastructure, grow their service base or become profitable. Consequently, the government implemented a series of industry-friendly initiatives in an attempt to stimulate growth: allowing operators to renegotiate on their license fee obligations or waiving off past dues, giving additional spectrum for free, allowing incoming calls to be chargeable for 4 years beyond the policy stipulation, etc. In the face of weak teledensity and high call charges, it is perhaps natural for the public to have the notion that there is corruption or lack of wherewithal in the government. Consequently, it has remained easy for public ire to be riled in this context by vested interests. N.K. Goyal, president, CMAIAssociation of India has stated, "The defining moment in the history was when the sector was opened up to private players in the 1990s, and then the entry of new mobile players in 2007-08 which brought down mobile tariffs to the lowest level and industry grew rapidly. "
P.J. Thomas, Secretary (T) replied to the audit reference of CAG on 27 July 2010 itself "It is only after May, 2007 when Hon'ble MoC and IT took over as Minister of Communications and IT and particularly after the grant of new UAS licences in 2008, the teledensity in India and particularly in rural areas started increasing at an unprecedented rate. As a result by June, 2010, the rural tele-density has increased to about 26% and all-India tele-density has reached to 57%. It may also be noted that for the last two years, country is adding more than 10 million subscribers per month which has even touched 20 million subscribers in a month and is presently adding 15 million subscribers per month. The number of total telephones in the country has increased to 6 71. 7 million by June 2010. The targets of 11th Plan of 600 million total phones, 200 million rural phones and 25% rural tele-density have already been achieved two years in advance." Later in 2014, Thomas made a courtesy visit to my house and expressed his anguish over the crafty behaviour of Rai in the 2G audit and adjudged that he (Rai) had tarnished the image of the constitutional body CAG.
Perhaps the fact that the actions taken during my tenure had such a significant impact is why the furore could be staged to such unprecedented proportions, even though there hasn't been a shred of actual proof of corruption whereas there has been actual proof of growth in teledensity and dramatic reduction in call charges. There is mixed opinion about the relative success of the 2G auction held after the licenses issued under me were cancelled."
(This excerpt is taken from A. Raja’s book 2G SAGA UNFOLDS, published by Har-Anand Publications, to be formally released on 20 January 2018.The book will be available at ecommerce site )
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