ASDF Note did not reflect my views, finance chief says


Staff member
New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday termed the controversial finance ministry note on the 2G spectrum allocation scam as a background paper which did not reflect his views.

In a short statement made outside his North Block office, Mukherjee said: "Apart from factual background [there were] certain inferences which do not reflect my views."

The note in question was sent to the prime minister's office on March 25,

Mukherjee was accompanied by Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

The note, which stated that Chidambaram as the finance minister could have prevented the 2G spectrum allocation scam by insisting on its auction, has cast a shadow over Chidambaram, with the opposition demanding his ouster from the government.

A relieved Chidambaram stepped forward after Mukherjee's statement to say: "I am happy with the statement read by my distinguished colleague." He declared the matter closed.

On a day full of hectic activities, the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi held meeting with Defence Minister A.K. Antony and her political secretary Ahmad Patel followed by a meeting with Mukherjee. Her message was clear that Chidambaram must be protected both legally and politically.

Prime minister visit

The meeting was followed with both Mukherjee and Chidambaram calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his 7 Race Course residence soon after Singh had returned from a short trip to Sikkim to assess the damage caused by the recent earthquake in the north-eastern state.

Mukherjee explained to both the Congress president and the Prime Minister that the note was prepared with inputs from various ministries including the prime minister's office.

The instruction to the two ministers was clear that together they had to end this unsavoury chapter. However, the idea of calling a joint press conference was cancelled at Mukherjee's insistence that it would only cause the controversy to linger.

The two ministers therefore did not take any questions and made a hasty retreat form the scene after Mukherjee made the statement and Chidambaram accepted it.

According to sources in the Congress party, Mukherjee played down reports of a rift with Chidambaram and told both Sonia and Singh that the controversial 2G note was just a background paper and was in no way an indictment of the Home Minister's role in scam.

The principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) later criticised the government and reiterated its demand for Chidambaram's ouster saying he had no right to accept Mukherjee's statement.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said Chidambaram was guilty and nothing less than his resignation would satisfy them.