Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defense by Salman Khurshid and Daksha Sharma-Review

Title: Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defence

Author: Salman Khurshid & Daksha Sharma

Publisher: Rupa

Price: Rs. 595

Pages: 178

One of the major issues of 2014 Lok Sabha elections was a leaked report of Comptroller and Auditor General on the 2G spectrum policy suggesting a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crores to the government exchequer due to ‘questionable’ policies of the then UPA government in handling out spectrum resource in 2007-08 at the price of 2001. Several years later, in December 2017, a special CBI Court pronounced the verdict saying, “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case, and all accused are acquitted.”

Few months after special CBI Court Judge O P Saini acquitted former telecom minister A Raja, DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, then telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura etc., former Minister for External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid along with Daksha Sharma wrote a book Spectrum Politics: Unveiling the Defence. The authors brilliantly argued that there was no legal basis to call the 2G spectrum allocation a scam. At the same time, they accept that “The perception battle was sadly lost well before the 2014 elections, and we went into the campaign as a tired and worn-out party.” The result was visible. Among various other reasons, so-called 2G spectrum also contributed significantly in the defeat of Congress.

The book gives insight in the 2G case right from the origins of spectrum policy under BJP-led NDA government to the findings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. First, newspapers and news channels began highlighting 2G scam and opposition parties tried to raise the issue in parliament. Session after session, Parliament was paralysed. Opposition parties, including BJP, demanded resignation of important members of government.

The authors say, “In addition to the clear acquittal by the CBI Court, the two reports – first of Justice Shivraj Patil and the second of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) – and the Five Judges Constitutional Bench Advisory Opinion to the President of India, all variously rejected the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report.”

Now, nobody talks of 2G ‘scam’. It will not be an issue in the coming elections. The point is, what did we learn from the 2G experience? The authors say, “The end result is that no one seems any wiser. The people who suffered incarceration and severe damage to their reputations will never be compensated adequately and it is unlikely that the entire episode will have a deterrent impact on future transactions, and the public will just let the matter be forgotten as fresh supposed scandals are exposed by the media.”

Former minister and leader of DMK A Raja has also written a book 2G Saga Unfolds, in which he puts forth his point of view on the entire controversy. The tone of former minister indicates that adversity has mellowed him somewhat. But, he has not forgiven Vinod Rai.

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