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PMO had no role in sanctioning Devas deal

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said the Cabinet was not informed that the 2005 agreement between ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix and Devas also involved allocation of S-band spectrum to the private firm.

Replying to supplementaries during question hour in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet note dealing with the launch of two satellites as part of the deal between Antrix and Devas did not mention that there was “specific commitment (on spectrum)”.

“No allocation of terrestrial spectrum was made to Antrix or Devas, and the reports of loss of several lakh crore rupees has no basis,”the Prime Minister told the lawmakers in the Upper House.

He continued by saying, “Government has taken a strategic decision not to allot S-Band spectrum to Antrix for commercial purposes.”

The Parliament is set to witness an intense debate over the terms of reference for the Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into 2G spectrum allocation – announced by the PM two days back..

Though the Motion for formation of JPC is not listed in today’s business in the Lok Sabha, sources said the government will list it as a supplementary.

The motion on JPC will be brought by Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal in the Lok Sabha at 2pm today. This will be followed by a four-hour discussion on the issue.

On Wednesday, the government gave up its earlier plan for a 21-member panel and conceded the Opposition’s demand for having 30 members in the JPC to probe the 2G spectrum issue to accommodate smaller parties.

As per the reports, the panel will have 20 members from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha. Congress MP PC Chako is the front runner to head the JPC.

However, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi will take a final call on this. The main opposition, BJP, has suggested the names of its stalwarts – Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Harin Pathak, SS Ahluwalia and Ravi Shankar Prasad for the panel.

Soon after Dr Manmohan Singh announced the formation of a JPC yesterday, wrangling over its constitution started with smaller parties complaining about no representation in the JPC panel and being neglected by the government.

AIADMK MP M Thambidurai yesterday met NDA Working Chairperson L K Advani and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj to request that the principal opposition also take up its case for a 30-member JPC.

Both Advani and Swaraj conveyed the message to the government and suggested to form a bigger JPC. As per the arrangement 38 members in the House entitle a party to one seat in the panel.

Congress will have eight members in the Committee from the Lower House and three from the Upper House.

BJP will have four members from the Lok Sabha and two members from the Rajya Sabha. Out of its tally of four, the saffron party has decided to give one to its ally Shiv Sena.

Congress allies NCP and Trinamool Congress will have one member each on the panel. BSP, JD (U) and Left parties will have two each while SP and BJD will have one each. The DMK will have two members and AIADMK will have one member in the panel.

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