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Congress defends Chidambaram on 2G scam

The Congress Thursday came to the defence of Home Minister P. Chidambaram after the opposition demanded his resignation over the 2G scam and described it as a "mischievous attempt" to create a rift in the party.

"The party does not doubt his integrity. This precise issue has been raised by Dr (Subramanian) Swamy in the apex court and is sub judice," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters here.

Singhvi said the "mischievous attempt" by the opposition to create a rift between different constitutional functionaries was highly regrettable.

"Without waiting for the proceedings to be completed, it is highly objectionable and inappropriate for Dr Swamy or anyone else to pass premature judgment on the very same issue on which he is seeking relief," Singhvi said.

He was reacting to Swamy's submission of a finance ministry note to the Supreme Court, which said the telecom ministry could have gone in for auction of 2G spectrum licenses had Chidambaram, who was then finance minister, insisted on it.

Swamy presented the documents before the apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly, which is hearing his petition for a CBI probe into Chidambaram's alleged role in deciding the price of 2G spectrum allocation.

The revelations gave further ammunition to the opposition to target Chidambaram.

The opposition - both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left - have demanded the resignation of Chidambaram and asked for a CBI probe against him.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said: "There is no conflict, no rift in the government. Sorry to disappoint the opposition, which has raked up a non-issue, there are no squabbles in the government."

"The note sent by the finance ministry was a routine one. You might have heard Pranab Mukherjee speaking from the US. There are no differences in the government," she told reporters here.

"There is no new controversy, no new revelations in the note. It was just a reply to a routine RTI question. There is nothing new in the note other than what Chidambaram has been telling last week and before."

Law Minister Salman Khurshid also said it is unfair to drag Chidambaram's name into an "element of criminality".

Khurshid said some policies have to be reversed if they don't work.

"Now, every time you reverse a policy that hasn't worked, you can't say that the person who brought that policy in was incompetent, or that he was dishonest, or that he undeservingly got the job in which he made that policy. I think that's an extremely unfair and dangerous point of view," he added.

The new twist in the second generation spectrum allocation case emerged following an RTI application filed by activist Vivek Garg in the PMO. The RTI is among the papers that have been submitted to the Supreme Court by Swamy.

It mentions a note of the finance ministry that says Chidambaram could have prevented spectrum from being given away at throwaway prices by insisting on its auction -- implying that presumptive losses worth thousands of crores could have thus been avoided.

The note, which was apparently shown to Mukherjee and accessed by way by an application under the Right to Information Act, was prepared by a deputy secretary in the finance ministry and sent to the Prime Minister's Office March 25.

Mukherjee, speaking at an event in New York, said "the matter is sub judice. The court is looking into it."

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