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Guilty in 2G spectrum saga will be punished: PM

New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) Refraining from any direct personal remarks on the 2G spectrum scam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said no one found guilty of wrong-doing will be spared, and urged all political parties to let parliament function and carry forward the due process.

‘We are ready to discuss all issues in parliament. We are not afraid of discussion,’ the prime minister said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here in what were his first public comments on the 2G spectrum scam.

‘As far as allocation of 2G spectrum is concerned, parliament is in session. I would not like, therefore, to make any detailed statement,’ the prime minister said during a brief question-answer session after his 20-minute speech.

‘I can state that various aspects of this are being looked into by the respective investigating agencies in their domain of interest,’ he said in the session, moderated by his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru.

‘But there should not be any doubt in anybody’s mind if any wrong thing has been done by anybody, he or she will be brought to book. For all this to happen, in a democracy, I think, we have to allow parliament to function,’ he said.

‘It is my humble request to all parties to let parliament work.’

The 2G spectrum saga has crippled parliament for the whole of this week as the opposition refused to give up its demand for a parliamentary probe into the scandal that has even enveloped the Prime Minister’s Office.

The opposition was not satisfied with the resignation of DMK leader A. Raja as communications minister late Sunday – during whose tenure spectrum, or airwaves for mobile phone services, were awarded in 2008, mainly to new players.

The position of opposition parties was only strengthened after India’s official auditor indicted Raja and said his policies had caused a loss of Rs.58,000 crore ($12.8 billion) to Rs.1.76 lakh crore ($40 billion) to the exchequer.

Later, a Supreme Court bench had even asked why the prime minister did not give sanction to Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy in 2008 to file a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Raja over the 2G spectrum controversy.

The government so far has declined the opposition’s demand, saying the Public Accounts Committee chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi functions like a permanent joint parliamentary committee and is capable of probing any matter.

During his speech, the prime minister could not hide how distraught he felt and even recalled his formative years in a small village with no potable water, electricity, school or hospital.

‘It is often said these are testing times. In fact, I cannot help feeling that we in India are living always in testing times,’ he said in the opening remarks of his speech.

‘Indeed as PM, I sometimes feel like a high school student going from one test to another,’ he said, evoking much laughter from the audience, which included politicians, corporate chiefs and civil society leaders.

‘The good news is: Despite all the difficulties we have to go through and for which we are being tested, we as a nation are winning,’ he said, adding: ‘We must be doing some things right.’

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