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Pranab, Chidambaram meet Sonia over 2G row

New Delhi: Congress president Mrs Sonia Gandhi today stepped into the 2G spectrum row that has engulfed the government by meeting home minister Mr P Chidambaram and finance minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee amid unconfirmed reports that the former had offered to quit.

Mr Mukherjee saw Mrs Gandhi shortly after his return from New York where he had met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh against the backdrop of the raging controversy over a finance ministry note which suggested that Mr Chidambaram when he was the finance minister in 2008 could have prevented the 2G scam if he had insisted on the auction of the spectrum.

The note has angered the home minister.As the intense effort to defuse the crisis continued, some media reports suggested that Mr Chidambaram had offered to step down but there was no authentic word on it. Mr Chidambaram had publicly stated a few days back that he would not speak on the controversy till the Prime Minister returns from the USA.

Dr Singh is due to return home tomorrow. Mr Chidambaram, who met Mrs Gandhi first, was with her for 15 minutes while Mr Mukherjee`s parleys with the Congress president lasted 40 minutes.

Before his parleys with Mrs Gandhi, Mr Mukherjee repeated his praise of Mr Chidambaram as a “valuable colleague” and went on to say that he was a “pillar of strength” to the government.

Both Mr Mukherjee and Mr Chidambaram drove past waiting reporters after meeting Mrs Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence without saying a word.

Details of what transpired at the two meetings were not immediately known. This was Mr Chidambaram`s first meeting with Mrs Gandhi, who is also UPA chairperson, after controversy broke out last week over the note to the Prime Minister`s Office.
Congress spokesman Mr Abhisehk Singhvi said the finance ministry note has some judgemental sentences and there is no reason for creating a “sensation.”
On reports that Mr Chidambaram has offered to quit, Mr Singhvi said it is “speculative.” 

“Where is the question of the home minister offering to resign. Where is the question of huge war going on there. These discussions between Constitutional functionaries are normal,” Mr Singhvi told NDTV.

Mr Mukherjee said on his arrival from the USA that he will speak on the note only after discussions with the Prime Minister and other colleagues. He told reporters at the airport that a full-fledged Press conference will be held after the Prime Minister returns home.

After reaching his North Block office, he said: “If it is needed I will say whatever (I have) to say after Prime Minister comes back and after we have discussions among ourselves.”

Mr Khurshid at his briefing said, “I have seen the note. I don`t think the note has anything on which we should express worry.”

“Even if all parts of the note are believed to be correct, I will say that the inferences drawn are not correct,” he said. Mr Khurshid, who made it clear that he was giving opinion in his personal capacity and in the capacity of lawyer, claimed that the matter was “not so big” as has been projected by the media.

He said the media was giving unnecessary attention to the note which, according to him, had “no meaning”.

“I dont think the note should keep you (media) preoccupied for such a long time,” the law minister said.

Mr Khurshid said the note was actually a “summary” prepared by a official at the lower level. “People give their opinion over and above the summary. The importance of the opinion will be seen when the issue is discussed,” he said.

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