BJP leader Arun Shourie is in touch with the Department of Telecom official who blew the whistle on the 2G scam that has led to the arrest of former UPA telecom minister A Raja and his key associates.
Shourie believes what he is doing has someone worried, and that in turn has produced what he calls a "swallow, vomit journalism" type of expose on how he disinvested government shares in Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or VSNL, in 2002.
On the sidelines of the India Today Conclave, Shourie spoke to Puja Mehra. Excerpts:
On the allegation that as disinvestment minister in 2002 he structured the divestment of government shares in VSNL in a way that gives its surplus land to the Tatas for a song:
The Tatas can't sell it. Why doesn't anyone look at the agreement? There were 774 acres which were identified by VSNL as surplus. The agreement itself provides if they sell the land all the profits will accrue to the government. They cannot even take 25 per cent - or their share in the equity of VSNL - of the proceeds. If it is not demerged and it is not yet sold what is the problem?
On the accusation that as telecom minister he created a monopoly on international phone services for VSNL after the divestment:
Look at the contract again. It had a monopoly till 2004, but the government could not have allowed a private company that, so the monopoly was ended in 2002.
But it was listed in India and on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shareholders would have gone to court over the monopoly being ended at the time of the disinvestment. So a compensation package was provided where it was said Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, BSNL, and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Mtd, MTNL, would route their calls through VSNL which would have to give them market rates.
On his interactions with the CBI over the 2G scam:
I handed them copies of the letters former TRAI chairman Nripendra Misra had written saying Raja did not follow his recommendations. The CBI told me they have uncovered at least one of the money trails in the 2G scam. In all cases of investigation of corruption by public servants there should be day-to-day hearings. Also, the onus should be on the accused. If Sukhram has Rs 4.5 crore in his bedroom, he has to say how he got it, not the CBI.
On the anonymous whistle-blower of the 2G scam who approached him first:
The CBI is in touch with him. He has given them all the information. I have been telling them to record his statement before a magistrate .
On his allegation that the joint parliamentary committee on 2G scam will deflect attention from real issues:
There are two issues: who made the money and what were the prime minister and finance minister doing? Now they have made 200 issues. With limited mobility, spectrum policy etc, the Centre is diffusing the issues.