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2G: Arun Shourie appears before CBI

New Delhi: Former telecom minister Arun Shourie on Friday appeared before the CBI in connection with the 2G case and said the real issue involved kickbacks and not the policy pursued for spectrum allocation.

Before he went into the CBI headquarters where he was called for questioning, he said the government was trying to divert the attention from “real issues” by coming up with “rubbish arguments”.

Shourie, who was Telecom Minister in the Vajpayee government, said he will assist the CBI in whatever way possible and will also submit a 50-page document prepared by him giving details about broad questions like on first-come-first-serve basis policy that are appearing in the media.

“It is a very interesting point (fist-come-first-serve-basis). It is a red herring shown to the public. The issue is that (former telecom minister) A Raja made money irrespective of whether it was a first-come-first-serve policy or not. That is why he was shown the door. He was put in jail.”

“The issue is money being made in allocation of spectrum. Even more important was his (Raja’s) supervisors did not take action. They were sleeping. This is the issue.”

Shourie said to “divert the attention from this issue, government has come out with first-come-first-serve-basis argument”.

Shourie has appeared before the CBI for questioning in connection with the agency’s probe into possible criminal aspects in the telecom policy since 2001.

Shourie had held the telecom portfolio between January 2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime.

According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were given out then on a first-come-first-serve basis and Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.

Shourie said, “I was given the ministry in 2003. In 2001 guidelines, policy of first-come-first-serve basis was very clear. The arguments of this government are all rubbish.”

The former telecom minister also lambasted Shivraj Patil committee’s report, saying these “signatures for hire” (referring to Patil) did not see the documents themselves.

He said government has succeeded from diverting the attention from the real issue.

“While media is busy covering visits of industrialists and corporates to the CBI, the Prime Minister’s name is out, (DMK leader) M Karunanidhi’s name is out. Names of other Congress members are out,” he said.

Shourie, however, praised the CBI saying it was a competent organisation if given a free hand. He said as per his information, the CBI has spoken to the whistleblower who had given the inputs about the scam.

The former telecom minister said he was at the CBI headquarters to assist the probe agency in whatever way possible and reply all their questions based on his knowledge and records with him.

Shourie said he had presented to the CBI the facts of the case and even introduced to the agency the person who had given all the details about the scam and its alleged actors.

“As per my information they certainly contacted the person. They held several meetings with him and acted on that basis. That is why when the court took the matter in its hand, when CAG report came, the CBI was able to move swiftly. Because it had all the details like names of people, their numbers etc,” he said.

When asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on coalition politics, Shourie said, “Now Raja has been put in jail, has any consequence followed for the coalition. Why not look at the compulsions of the DMK? They cannot go against the central government. See their compulsions as well.”

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