After the flop 2G spectrum auction that yielded only Rs.9,407 crore, Government and the Congress on Thursday questioned the Comptroller and Auditor General’s estimated loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore in the spectrum allocation of 2001, drawing fire from the opposition.
Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari led the government attack by asking CAG Vinod Rai as to why the spectrum auction had not yielded anything close to the loss it had estimated.
“Mr CAG, where is the 1.76 lakh crore? I think it is time for some serious introspection. Its time the CAG introspects on his processes and it is high time that the BJP and some of the other opposition parties, which had made this their holy grail and swansong of politics over the last two years, should publicly apologise,” Tewari said while speaking to reporters.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh also took a dig at the national auditor’s estimate of loss in the 2G spectrum allocation in 2001.
“The CAG should reconsider how far its estimate was right with regard to the report, which it had earlier given and the losses that it had computed (in spectrum allocation two years ago),” Singh said.
BJP hit back at the government. “Government keeps looking for ways to attack constitutional institutions like the CAG which are acting in a fair and independent manner,” party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Singh sought to dismiss the suggestion that the auction yielding less revenue this time is a reflection of disenchantment of telecom companies with the government.
The government was targeting a minimum of Rs 28,000 crore from the sale of 2G spectrum in the GSM band and the tepid response may upset its efforts to meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 5.3 per cent of GDP.
Overall, the government had budget Rs 40,000 crore as revenue from spectrum sale this fiscal.