Prime Minister Manmohan Singh found himself in an unparalleled
crisis Thursday with the Supreme Court asking for an affidavit
detailing his response on the plea to prosecute A. Raja for the 2G
spectrum scam and the opposition saying his silence on the issue
And once again parliament was
disrupted as the opposition demanded a joint parliamentary
committee (JPC) on the issue of A. Raja, who resigned Sunday as
communications and IT minister, and the 2G spectrum allotment
issue that is estimated to have cost the exchequer Rs.176,000
crore (Rs.1.76 trillion/approx $39 billion).
Realising the gravity of the deepening crisis, the Congress
leadership met at the prime minister's residence with party
president Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home
Minister P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, who is handling the
telecom ministry and is a legal expert, amongst others in
While the Congress was meeting to firm up its stance, the Supreme
Court asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam to file an
affidavit by Saturday on the government's response to a petition
by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy seeking sanction to
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had taken exception to the 11-month
"silence" of the prime minister on Swamy's public interest
litigation. The court direction came after the solicitor general
told the court that the government has responded in action to
"Every letter of Swamy has been dealt with," the solicitor general
told the court.
"The solicitor general has either been misled by the PM's office
or misinformed the court," Swamy told reporters.
"I am suggesting that solicitor general is either embroidering or
stretching the truth. He is taking even routine acknowledgment as
He then said the government should come clean that it could not
take action against Raja due to "pressure".
"He (prime minister) is a nice man, but obviously a weak man,"
The sentiment about the prime minister, known for his personal
probity, was echoed by the opposition.
"Now even the Supreme Court has asked the prime minister to file
an affidavit on why it was silent on the 2G scam. In the history
of independent India it has never happened that the Supreme Court
has had to question the prime minister," Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters outside
Quick to seize the opportunity, he added: "Raja said he had sought
the prime minister's permission for everything he did. It makes
him (prime minister) equally responsible, he must come out with a
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Brinda Karat agreed
and said: "It is embarrassing that for the first time in the
history of India, the Supreme Court has had to take the name of
the prime minister and ask why he was silent."
Her colleague in the Rajya Sabha Sitaram Yechury also had a word
of advice for the prime minister when they walked out of the house
"I told him that you should clear your name…" Yechury said, adding
that he too had got no response to his letters asking for action
"But the legislature cannot be ignored, the prime minister will
have to respond.'
The AIADMK alleged that the prime minister was quiet because
people at high levels were involved. The AIADMK is the main
opposition party in Tamil Nadu where Raja's party DMK leads the
government. The DMK is also part of the Congress-led United
Progressive Alliance (UPA).
"Perhaps that is why the prime minister is silent and he has to
face the embarrassment of getting a censure from the Supreme
Court," AIADMK leader V. Maitreyan told reporters.
"We demand a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) on this and we
want the prime minister to come clean on this. Till the government
agrees to a JPC, (there will be) no parliament," he added.
According to informed sources in the Congress party, the prime
minister may make a statement in parliament Friday on the issue.