The Government’s attempts to take potshots at the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after the poor response to the 2G spectrum auctions have not gone down well with the Opposition and the government auditor.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party said the Government was blaming the auditor for its own faults, the Left parties said that the design of the auction itself was faulty, aimed at helping the corporate players.

CAG unhappy

The Government’s stand on the issue will be questioned by the Opposition in the Winter Session of Parliament, slated to begin on November 22.

The auditors, too, are unhappy with the Government’s frequent barbs. Standing by the performance audit report on the 2G scam, they have argued that the Government would not be able to substantiate the allegations against them.

CAG sources said the coverage and extent of spectrum mentioned in the report and those in the recent auction are “completely different.”

They said, while the base price for “non-profitable” areas was too high, auctioning did not take place in “profitable” areas such as Mumbai, Delhi and Karnataka.

The market scenario had also changed between 2008 and 2012, they added.

The BJP said the Government’s attempt to browbeat the CAG was “disgusting, unfortunate, unacceptable and undemocratic”.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said the CAG’s findings were vindicated as the auction of just 22 licences had fetched a higher amount than the sale of 122 licences in 2008 on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

He said the “failed” auction was a clear reflection of sagging investor confidence and worries over the fiscal deficit. He added that the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel all 122 licences was based on the merit of the case.

Delay auction: CPI(M)

The CPI(M) said the auction took place at a time when the technological relevance of 2G was diminishing.

“This is the age of 3G and 4G,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said. He said the Government connived with corporate players to keep the amount low so that the private players could benefit and the Government could claim that its policy was good.

He asked the Telecom Ministry to delay the next stage of auction, keeping in mind the market conditions.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 16, 2012)
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