Citizens' Issues
Manmohan says not a lame duck PM; ready to face JPC probe on 2G

In an address to TV editors, prime minister says he was restricted by the compulsions of the coalition government and that he did not take quicker action on 2G as he did not think there was anything wrong at that time

 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today underlined that he would stay in office to take the reforms process forward, while denying that a series of corruption scandals had made him a lame duck leader.

Allegations that the government may have lost up to Rs1,76,000 crore in revenues on account of allocation of 2G spectrum at very low prices in return for kickbacks have rocked the government, practically paralysed Parliament and worried the stock markets.

"Whatever some people may say, that we are a lame duck government, that I am a lame duck prime minister, we take our job very seriously," Dr Singh, said at a media roundtable with TV editors. "We are here to govern, and to govern effectively. Tackle the problems as they arise and get this country moving forward."

The prime minister denying talk about his possible resignation is further indication of the impact that the scandals have had on his second term in office, after being re-elected with an increased majority in 2009.

He said that things were not entirely the way he would like them to be, "but quite frankly I never felt like resigning because I have a job to do."

The prime minister has said it before and he repeated it today that he was not afraid of appearing before any committee, including a Joint Parliamentary Committee. "This is an entirely wrong impression that I was the one blocking the agreement on a JPC," he said.

To a question about what was his biggest regret in UPA-II, Dr Singh said that "these irregularities have happened. They should not have happened. I am not very happy about these developments".

He virtually disagreed with the calculations of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the loss figure in the 2G scam, saying the CAG itself had called it presumptive. There are various methods of computing the figures, he said and went on to question whether the Rs80,000 crore being spent on foodgrains subsidy, Rs60,000 crore on fertilisers and subsidy on kerosene could be called a loss.

The prime minister's remarks got an immediate response from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the principal opposition party, which said that his statements were disappointing and showed his helplessness. "In a way, an effort has been made to cover up the corruption. He has accused the media and opposition of spreading misinformation while maintaining that all is well. He has expressed his helplessness," Nitin Gadkari, president of the BJP, said.

The prime minister tried to reassure the country that his government would deal with the scandals effectively. "I wish to assure you and I wish to assure the country as a whole that our government is dead serious in bringing to book all the wrongdoers, regardless of the position they may occupy."

On the scandals, he said that as far as who gets licences, the first-come-first-served policy, how it is implemented, "that was never discussed with me." Dr Singh said that licences were not a matter which ever got referred to him or the cabinet. "That was a decision exclusively of the telecoms ministry."

The prime minister has been criticised frequently for his apparent indecision on various matters and he has also been hampered by an impression that Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi wields the real power. And today, there came some explanation for the indecision as when he was asked why he did not act quickly on the problems in the allocation of telecom licenses and on the reappointment of former telecommunications minister A Raja.

"In a coalition government you can suggest your preferences, but you have to go by what the leader of that coalition partner ultimately insists. Raja ... was the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) party choice and at that moment I had no reason frankly speaking that anything seriously wrong had been done."

"I did not feel I had the authority to object to Mr Raja's entry because quite honestly in May 2009, although complaints were coming in, although complaints were coming from all sides, some from companies not benefitting (from the telecoms spectrum allocation) ... I was not in a position to make up my mind that anything seriously was wrong," he said.

The Indian stock market is down nearly 11% this year, the worst performer among Asian markets, due to the scandals that have worried investors. Foreign investors have pulled out huge amounts from the market recently, while foreign direct investment has fallen over the past three years. This is also due to the global economic slowdown, but uncertainty is a major factor.

"This sort of atmosphere is not good. It saps our own self-confidence. It also spoils the image of India," Dr Singh said, but he denied they had hurt FDI. "It is not our mistake. The international situation is such that funds are moving out of emerging markets. We are today functioning in an environment where what happens outside affects us. Therefore, it is not easy to say that what happens to fund flow is entirely a function of our policy."

Policymaking has suffered severely after the last parliamentary session was totally disrupted by opposition protests demanding a probe into the telecoms scam. But today, the prime minister promised clearer measures in the forthcoming budget, saying, "We have not given up, we will persist. There are difficulties, particularly when Parliament is not allowed to function. I think Parliament is not able to perform its essential function, being a forum for legislation."
On inflation that has hit the common citizen hard, Dr Singh said, "We want to deal with it (inflation) in a manner that the growth rhythm is not disturbed. If we were concerned only in curbing inflation we could have done with pursuing tighter monetary policies...if in the process the growth rate gets hurt that would not do our country any good."

Rejecting criticism that the government has given up on economic reforms, the prime minister said, "I sincerely hope in the (upcoming) Budget we will see a clearer picture of the reform agenda."

Hinting at big initiatives for infrastructure development, he said: "I believe we are going to have a fresh wave of infrastructure investment with the help of PPP (public-private partnership) model." He said discussions were going on to create an infrastructure development fund and that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee may make some announcements.

It has been estimated that India needs investment to the tune of over a trillion dollars in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) to sustain a growth rate of 8-9%. When asked where the country would mop up such resources from, Dr Singh said, "We must create a viable corporate debt market. I think that is the direction in which we must move."




6 years ago

Dr.Singh on the one hand says he is hobbled by coalition dharma, and yet on the other hand he asserts "we will be positive", "we won't give up", "coming budget will see return of reform agenda" etc. As the head of the council of ministers, who will believe him when he says he lacked authority to curtail Raja's escapades? If he is so powerless, how is he going to achieve all that he seems to promise!!

Rajan Manchanda

6 years ago

It is just un imaginable how Mr. Prime Minister is able to tolerate all the fraudulent deals. Being a good honest clean human is not good enough. He should ensure the whole system is cleansed. we all Indians look up to him to make us feel proud. We hope he will not loose out to weed out corruption.
Being humble is good but he should not literally believe "to err is human,to forgive divine" The corrupt believe "to err is human, to loot divine"
It's time he uses the whip !


6 years ago

Mr. PM, If u r not a lame duck, why is there any need to clarify about it. Ur clean image has been badly tarnished by the coterie (read colleagues) around u.
Nobody doubts ur credentials but as the old saying goes " A man is known by the company he keeps", u cannot afford to loose ur status as the cleanest PM so far.


6 years ago

What a new defenition for subsidiaries was given by MMS. The famous economist that he is, now compares the ones given to kerosene or fertilizers to spectrum owners who talk only interms of billions. So aam admi is equvalent to Tatas , Anil Ambani etc.

K Narayanan

6 years ago

Sushma said she would shave her head if Sonia became the PM.The clever Sonia kept MMSingh as front man whose personal integrity is beyond doubt and gets things done accordingly to her wish.MMSingh was categorical in his statement that it was coalition compulsion that made him a silent spectator and who decides the coalition -of course Sonia.Sushmaji-don't blame MMSingh-if you have guts attack Sonia directly.MMSingh is a helpless man.If he resigns we will not get a better PM.



In Reply to K Narayanan 6 years ago

what do u mean by better PM. If the honest PM is unable to act what is the point of his honesty. See what has happend crores have been looted in front of his eyes and he is just writing letters and memo`s.

Vijay Advani

6 years ago

Mr. Manmohan Singh's intergrity, honesty & excellent policies cannot be questioned. He is doing his best to solve the nation's problems, but like in any system, he will have to put in place effective 'checks & balances' to plug the various loop-holes. When there are loop-holes, it is prone to being mis-used by un-scrupulous elements ranging from politicians, businessmen, underworld & even ordinary citizens. Putting in an effective system of 'checks & balances' is a daunting task, and the present situation should propel Mr. Manmohan Singh to move forward at a fast pace.

K Narayanan

6 years ago

Wah!! What a new definition for "dharma".
It is saddening to note that our country of dharma and rich culture has degenerated under our able PM(but puppet of Italian lady) and dharma has been redefined.
What is DHARMA-coalition dharma.Let the country be looted but be a silent spectator as the loot is done by the coalition partner and faithfully adhere to dharma.
The country may sooner or later become a banana republic thanks to the politicians becoming global
citizens and stashing wealth anywhere in the world.With globilsation the word patriotic has new meaning for our politicians.

Anil Ambani meets CBI officials in Delhi in 2G scam case

ADAG says Anil Ambani not summoned by CBI, but that its chairman met agency officials to discuss various issues related to the telecom sector, including licenses and related matters of the last decade

Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) chairman Anil Ambani met officials  the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday, in relation with the ongoing inquiry in the telecom spectrum case, the company said in a statement today.

"During the course of his weekly visit to New Delhi, Anil Ambani met CBI officials today to clarify ongoing issues, relating to telecom matters for the years 2001 to 2010, and virtually every telecom operator in the country," ADAG said. It, however, clarified that the CBI had not issued any summons to Mr Ambani.

The statement reiterated that no one from the ADAG group held any shares in Swan Telecom Ltd in January 2008, when the 2G licences were issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and that not a single individual from the group had obtained any monetary gain or other benefits from it.

According to some media reports, the CBI questioned Tata Realty and Infrastructure chief financial officer Kishore Saletore and managing director Sanjay Ubale, S-Tel's CFO Arun Mandhana and chief regulatory officer Rupinder Sikka, as well as Loop's chief executive Sandip Basu. However, this could not be confirmed from the CBI.

The Supreme Court has directed the CBI to check the eligibility criteria of operators who won 2G spectrum licences. Earlier, in a report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said that Swan Telecom, which won telecom licences in 13 circles, appeared to have acted as a front company for Reliance Telecom, a unit of ADAG company Reliance Communications.

As per existing rules, no telecom operator is allowed to hold more than 10% shares in another operator in the same circle, directly or indirectly. However, the CAG said it had found that in all the 13 circles where Swan had got licences, RCom was also present and together with preferential shares equivalent to 0.9%, RCom had a 10.7% stake in Swan, which was against the prescribed norms.

But RCom has maintained that it held 9.9% stake in Swan through Reliance Telecom till December 2007 and that it had offloaded the stake before Swan was awarded telecom licences on 10 January 2008.

According to the CAG report, 85 out of 122 new licences did not meet the eligibility criteria prescribed by the Department of Telecommunications. Moreover, 45 out of these 85 licences failed to satisfy conditions of the main object clause in their Memorandum of Association. The government has already issued a show-cause notice to all 85 licence-holders asking them why their licences should not be cancelled.


Nifty, Sensex struggling at crucial resistance: Wednesday Closing Report

Unless the Nifty crosses 5,555 and the Sensex 18,500 quickly, the market risks falling

The market witnessed a listless opening on the back of subdued cues from the global arena. Trade lacked momentum as the key indices hovered on both sides of the neutral line and remained range-bound for most part of the morning.

With prime minister Manmohan Singh's interactions with TV editors along expected lines, the market continued its sideways movement in post-noon trade. The consolidation, which began yesterday, continued today, and the market closed in the green.

The Sensex and the Nifty opened with a negative gap at 18,273 and 5,468 respectively and traded in a narrow range throughout the day. However, both the benchmarks stayed well above yesterday's lows. The Sensex and the Nifty made an intra-day low of 18,216 and 5,460 in morning trade. The Sensex hit an intra-day high of 18,359 and the Nifty touched 5,505. But they could not cross Tuesday's highs.

Today's highs surpassed the 20-day moving average, but couldn't sustain the level. The Sensex closed 27 points up at 18,301, while the Nifty ended flat (up 0.70 points) at 5,482. The market needs to sustain above the 20-day moving average and cross 5,555 on the Nifty and 18,500 on the Sensex for the rally to sustain. The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 843:540.

The market breadth was tilted towards declining stocks. The Sensex had 16 losers and 14 advancing stocks, while on the Nifty 27 stocks declined, 22 advanced and one remained unchanged. The broader markets outperformed the Sensex. The BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.53% and the BSE Small-cap index surged 1.01%.

The BSE Realty index (up 2.12%) was the top gainer in the sectoral space. Other gainers were BSE Metal (up 1.49%), BSE Consumer Durables (up 1.02%), BSE Capital Goods (up 0.56%) and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.41%). BSE Healthcare (down 0.58%) BSE Auto (down 0.37%) and BSE Public Sector Undertaking (down 0.20%) were the top sectoral losers.

Jaiprakash Associates (up 6.67%), Tata Steel (up 3.97%), Jindal Steel (up 3.28%), Wipro (up 3.03%) and Tata Power (up 1.74%) were the major Sensex gainers while HDFC (down 2.53%), Reliance Communications (down 1.72%), Mahindra & Mahindra (up 1.55%), Hero Honda (down 1.41%) and ONGC (down 1.18%) ended at the bottom of the list.

Expressing the confidence that inflation should be "no more than 7%" by March-end, compared to 8.23% in January, prime minister Manmohan Singh said the government's effort had been to rein in high prices without hurting growth, which he projected to be at 8.5% this fiscal.

Dr Singh said global factors like high crude and food prices were not under the control of the government and that efforts were being made to insulate the poor through programmes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and keeping prices at state-run ration shops unchanged since 2002.

Asian markets overcame initial hiccups and closed mostly higher today, supported by the optimism from Nomura Holdings about Japanese economic growth. The Bank of Japan had yesterday raised its economic assessment for the first time in nine months. The Chinese market gained after the latest economic data boosted investor confidence and eased worries about further policy-tightening measures.

The Shanghai Composite surged 0.86%, the Hang Seng jumped 1.12%, the Jakarta Composite ended flat with a positive bias of 0.02 points, the KLSE Composite added 0.06%, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.57% and the Straits Times rose 0.46%. On the other hand, Seoul Composite slipped 1.06% and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.10%.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of stocks worth Rs233.05 crore on Tuesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities worth Rs167.85 crore.

Tata Steel (up 3.97%) reported an over two-fold jump in its consolidated net profit to Rs1,003.02 crore for the third quarter ended December 2010, up from Rs472.65 crore in the year-ago period, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange. Consolidated net sales increased to Rs28,606.15 crore in the October-December quarter of 2010 from Rs26,068.55 crore in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.

Tata Consultancy Services (up 0.14%), India's largest IT services company, on Tuesday unveiled iON, its cloud computing platform-based solution for small and medium businesses (SMBs). iON will address the entire spectrum of an SMB's technology needs ranging from business solutions such as HR, finance, inventory, domain-based ERP solutions to basic applications-e-mail, document management and Web site services.

Piramal Glass (up 3.92%), a leading manufacturer of glass containers for cosmetics and perfumery, speciality foods and beverages and pharmaceuticals industry, has drawn up plans to invest Rs260 crore over the next two years, including Rs100 crore for expansion of its plant at Jambusar in Gujarat.




6 years ago

This has refernce to your specific comment on PM's interaction with TV editors.

I failed to see any editor questioning economy related issues. Are the editors so ill equiped? A lady editor was busy asking the question on World Cup and PM's facourite player. It was really sorry to see such questions in a nationally important deveelopment.

No questions was raised on :
Insurance and Retail FDI exposure limits?

Industrials are being questioned and arrested, where are bereaucrats and action taken on this community?

If BJP is unable to take action on its corrupt leaders, why cannot centre play an effective role through the President : His Highnes Governor.

The regional issues dominated the meeting, are these issues not important for the economy?

How can these high profile editors failed to raise these and other such issues. It was not a pleasure get together meeting for them.. NAtional issues should ha been raised.. but it was really sorry on their part; as they failed to paly thir role..

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