New Delhi: Former telecom minister and DMK leader A Raja has challenged Vinod Rai, ex government auditor, to a debate on the allocation of 2G spectrum, billed as one of India's biggest corruption scams. Mr Raja was acquitted in the case by a trial court last month.
- Vinod Rai had alleged A Raja allocated 2G licenses at throwaway prices
- At 1.76 lakh cr, 2G was billed as one of India's biggest corruption scams
- Raja was jailed for 15 months in the case
"Vinod Rai is like a cat that closes its eyes to declare the world is dark. I challenge him via your channel. Come have a debate. Let's look at facts. The entire CAG agreed there was no loss so why did Vinod Rai say this motivated thing," Mr Raja said to NDTV on Thursday, a day before his book "2G Saga Unfolds" is released.
In 2010, Vinod Rai was the Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG at the head of the constitutional body that audits government expenses when he alleged in a scathing report that Mr Raja, as telecom minister, caused the tax payer a loss of 1.76 lakh crore by allotting 2G spectrum licenses at throwaway prices. Mr Raja was forced to resign in 2010 just before the CAG report was to be tabled in parliament and later was jailed for 15 months in the case.
Last month, the trial court said the CBI had failed to prove charges against Mr Raja and 17 others accused in the 2G case. They were all acquitted.
The Congress which led the national coalition UPA that was in power at the centre at the time, has said the 2G verdict "will remain a black mark in the history of CAG" and has demanded Mr Rai be prosecuted. The 69-year-old former bureaucrat is currently chief of committee of cricket administrators.
Mr Raja today said that he has "grievances" against the Congress' Dr Manmohan Singh, who was his boss then as Prime Minister. "I am not angry but I have my grievances,'' Mr Raja said about the way he was treated.
The CBI had accused Mr Raja of misleading Dr Singh through letters on several key processes in the allocation of 2G spectrum, including those related to the policy of granting licences.
The judge who acquitted the DMK leader last month held that it was officials in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) who had kept Dr Singh in the dark.
In an emotional letter to Manmohan Singh after he was acquitted, Mr Raja had said he was disappointed at the former PM not trusting him. "Now that the truth about 2G is out in the open, perhaps you too could come forward in my support, which you could not earlier," he wrote, and also, "Neither of us could have imagined the twists and turns in our political and personal lives over the next ten years... It cost you the UPA government and it took seven years of my life including 15 months in jail."
Dr Singh responded saying he was happy that Mr Raja was vindicated. "You and your family have suffered greatly in this process but all your friends are greatly relieved that truth has prevailed," the former PM said.