BJP continues attack on PM on ISRO agreement

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday continued its attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the alleged ISRO S-band allocation, even as the Congress said terming the deal as scam was “absolutely bizarre”.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain accused the government of shying away from giving replies to questions relating to the 2005 agreement between Antrix Corporation - the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - and Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd.

The recent revelations related to S-band spectrum scam prove the apprehensions in the minds of the people that the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government is fully steeped in corruption, Hussain said.

Terming the Tuesday interaction of senior government officials with the media as a futile and half-hearted attempt to skirt and deflect the issue, he said the prime minister should come clear on the issue.

The government Tuesday denied that the nation suffered revenue losses in the allocation of space spectrum using S-band - high value and scarce radio waves - but admitted that the agreement between Antrix and Devas had not explicitly mentioned the end-use terms. It said that the agreement was being cancelled.

Hussain said that matters concerning the agreement need to be answered by the prime minister directly. The department of space works directly under the prime minister and he is directly responsible for its functioning, Hussain said.

He alleged that the malaise of corruption had afflicted the ministries under the prime minister.

It appears that the Congress-led UPA government is not only corrupt but also inept in detecting and taking forceful action against corruption, he said.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari rebutted the BJP’s claim of the ISRO agreement being a scam and said the government has already declared that it is canceling the deal.

Questioning figures cited in the media about possible loss to exchequer due to the agreement, Tewari said the thesis of using 3G auction as a benchmark and calling other agreements about spectrum as scam was absolutely bizarre.

This needs to be debunked. Whosever is propagating this is propagating ignorance. Certain decisions are taken in larger public interest, he said.

He said spectrum was also used to provide different kinds of public services such as police wireless and broadcasting.

Tewari added that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the spectrum issue has indicted the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government for decisions taken by it during its rule.

The BJP Monday said that the S-band deal could have caused the nation an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore, according to preliminary estimates by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

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