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Chidambaram as EGoM head cheers BJP up

After the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar declined to head the Empowered Group of Ministers [EGoM] on the allocation of telecom spectrum, the government has nominated the home minister P Chidambaram to take up this post and carry forward the business of the group.

Earlier, Pawar had refused to chair it, as he thought it would give the Opposition to criticise him.

In the past, the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] has hit out at Chidambaram for playing a dubious role in the allocation of spectrum to telecom companies as a finance minister. The BJP saw an opportunity in his taking over the chair of the EgoM and criticised him immediately. In a sarcastic remark, the senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, ‘That is good. He has been made the
kotwal
. It will be fun.’

Pawar’s name did not figure in the reconstituted ministerial panel. The other members who are part of the EgoM are the defence minister A K Antony, the telecom minister Kapil Sibal, the I&B minister Ambika Soni, the law minister Salman Khurshid, the minister of state in Prime Minister’s Office V Narayanasamy and the Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Sources say that no particular date has been set for the next meeting of the  EGoM.

The EGoM was reconstituted last week, after Pranab Mukherjee, who was earlier heading it, stepped down as the finance minister in order to file his nomination as a presidential candidate. Pawar replaced Mukherjee for a while and was then named as the new chairperson and the EGoM meeting was scheduled for 2 July.

However, Pawar resigned before the meeting was convened. In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he had said that he took this step to keep the controversies in the case away.
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