New Delhi: Admitting
to "some unfortunate incidents" in telecom policy implementation
and the conduct of the Commonwealth Games, Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh Thursday assured parliament that his government would do
everything to "clean up" public life.
He also said the cabinet was not informed of the S-band spectrum
allocation in the Antrix-Devas deal.
"I will be the last person to deny some unfortunate incidents took
place in the areas of telecom and Commonwealth Games. There is
nothing that we will not do in order to clean up public life... We
will not flinch from our commitment that no wrongdoer will escape
law," Manmohan Singh said, replying in the Lok Sabha and Rajya
Sabha to the debate on motion of thanks to President Pratibha
The prime minister did not agree that a scam had taken place, as
has been widely imputed and believed, but said that "if a scam had
taken place in its (telecom policy) implementation, it will be
Singh said the government had taken action against persons in
connection with the recent scams "whenever and wherever credible
evidence was available" and that state chief ministers and central
ministers had to resign in such matters.
The prime minister however defended his government on the 2G
He said scams should not cloud the tremendous growth in the
telecom sphere in the country and added that there was nothing
wrong in the present telecom policy of not auctioning telephony
Admitting to problems in the telecom sector, the prime minister
said: "These problems are now being looked into by the JPC (joint
parliamentary committee), PAC (public accounts committee) and the
CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)."
Having spoken thrice in the two houses on a single day, Manmohan
Singh was seen sipping water during his replies - each lasting for
about 45 minutes.
The prime minister intervened during the question hour earlier on
the Antrix-Devas S-band spectrum deal and said the reported loss
to the government exchequer running into "lakhs of crores" of
rupees, as being projected in some quarters, had no basis since
the government had not executed the contract.
He said the contract, signed in 2005 on a decision at the ISRO
level, was reviewed by the government in December 2009 and the
space commission had decided to annul it. "In light of the
country's strategic requirement, a decision has been taken not to
give away the S-band for commercial use."
The prime minister said that the cabinet came into the picture
indirectly as it dealt with approval for launch of two satellites.
"It was not mentioned in the cabinet note that there was a
specific commitment between Devas and Antrix," he said.
He said there was no question of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO)
being asked to approve the deal.
Sharing the opposition's concern over black money stashed in tax
havens abroad, he said everything would be done to bring it back
to address poverty in India.
"We all want to clean up our system of this menace. We are one
with the opposition that everything should be done to bring back
black money stashed abroad to India," he said.
On Pakistan, the prime minister said India was "willing to resolve
all outstanding issues" with the neighbour and expressed sincere
hope that it would "grasp our hand of friendship" and end terror
as an instrument of state policy and use of its soil for
Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, the prime minister said the
government was working to provide 50,000-100,000 jobs to the
youths there. This, he said, would change the "mental makeup and
mindset" of the job-starved state.
Calling for "constant vigil" on the security front, he listed
terrorism, extremism, insurgency in north-eastern states as some
of the internal security challenges. "I am not claiming we have
succeeded in getting over this problem, but these have been
The prime minister said terror was not attributable to any
This comment drew reaction from the BJP benches, with former
finance minister Yashwant Sinha on his feet asking, "Then why did
your home minister talk of saffron terror."
On the Maoist threat, the prime minister said the issue had to be
handled with "sensitivity", noting that economic deprivation drew
"our own" people to the extremist group.
On inflation, Manmohan Singh said it had become a problem in the
last 18 months but the government was committed to control it by
end of this fiscal (March 2011) to about 7 percent.
Hitting back at Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun
Jaitley for criticising him, the prime minister said India was a
success story under the UPA government and was a topic of
discussion at world fora.
"I urge the leader of opposition to read more. He will then be
educated enough not to use the harsh words he used against me by
saying I am an eminent economist but made a mess of the country,"
In the Lok Sabha too, Singh said during parliamentary debates,
questions can be raised on policy and its implementation, but not
on his intentions. "If you start questioning intentions, this is
not good for the growth of parliamentary system," he added.