Washington: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is cutting short his visit here and rushing to New York to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid a storm back home over his ministry's note to the PMO on the 2G scam.

Sources said that Mukherjee, who is in Washington to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, is heading to New York to meet the Prime Minister for "obvious" reasons.

The opposition is gunning for Home Minister P Chidambaram after a Finance Ministry note, that said 2G spectrum could have been auctioned if the then Finance Minister had insisted, surfaced.

The unexpected development takes place a day after the Prime Minister said he fully backed Chidambaram who "continues to enjoy and inspire my full confidence".

Asked whether there was any rift between his two top ministers, Singh said there was no infighting. The Prime Minister also spoke to Chidambaram on the issue from Frankfurt.

Singh is in New York to attend the 66th session of the UN General Assembly and is scheduled to address the world body on Saturday.

The meeting between Singh and Mukherjee is expected to take place after the Prime Minister's address to the General Assembly.

Sources would not divulge the specific reasons for the step, but would say it is "obvious" why he is travelling to New York to meet the Prime Minister. It was not immediately clear if Mukherjee himself offered to go to New York to discuss with the Prime Minister the situation arising out of the latest controversy on the 2G Scam and Chidambaram's role, or the Prime Minister summoned him to New York.

Indications about Mukherjee cutting short his visit came when his press conference with the Indian media that was earlier scheduled for Sunday morning was preponed to Friday afternoon 3-30 pm local Washington time.

Earlier, he was scheduled to leave for India via New York from Washington immediately after the breakfast meeting with Indian journalists on September 25.

Government fully with Chidambaram: Khurshid

Asserting that the Government was with Home Minister P Chidambaram on the 2G issue, Law Minister Salman Khurshid dismissed controversy over a Finance Ministry note sent to the PMO saying it was not written by Pranab Mukherjee but by a junior officer.

"Not only we are behind the Home Minister, we are all together united on the issue," Khurshid said when asked if the Government was backing the Home Minister who is facing allegations on the issue.

"We are saying that we don't believe that Chidambaram in remotest of ways should be questioned for policy decisions that were taken at that time," he said.

On the Finance Ministry note, Khurshid said, "I am not willing to believe that this was done by Pranab Mukherjee. Inferences are unwarranted and it is unfair to jump to conclusions... but I am sure that he has not even remotely put a question-mark over his predecessor."

He said the Finance Minister would not have endorsed the the note and such an important matter has to go through the Finance Secretary and not from a junior official to another.

Asked to react on a letter written by Minister of State Ashwani Kumar to the Prime Minister, he said the people have minds of their own and have opinions on decisions taken by the Cabinet and it cannot be construed as "confrontation and disagreement."

In the letter, Kumar has reportedly said that the Government reputation was damaged by zero-loss claim of Kapil Sibal in 2G scam.

Asked who was to be ultimately blamed for the whole issue, the Law Minister said at an "appropriate stage", all these questions would be answered.

BJP targets PM over Chidambaram

The BJP targeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he reposed faith in Home Minister P Chidambaram who is facing opposition heat in 2G Spectrum case, asking whether he was being "shielded" over fears of "embers of the fire" reaching the PMO.

The Congress on its part hit out at BJP accusing the main opposition party of wanting to fish in troubled waters and asked it not to "jump the gun" since the 2G issue is already under a Joint Parliamentary Committee(JPC) probe.

As the two parties were locked in a slugfest over the Finance Ministry note to the PMO on the stand taken by Chidambaram in 2G spectrum allocation when he was the Finance Minister, the BJP alleged his "culpability" was evident and demanded a fair investigation into his role.
    
Stepping up BJP's attack on Chidamabram while pressing for his resignation, the party's Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad wondered how the Prime Minister has expressed "full confidence" in him without going into the merits of the case in the wake of the new evidence.

“Is his confidence in his ministerial colleague more important than a fair inquiry?" he asked, insisting that "not taking timely action for the benefit of someone is also a crime.”

"We want to ask the Prime Minister if the compulsion to shield Chidambaram is there as the embers of the fire can reach the PMO," Prasad said.

"Skeletons are fighting skeletons and rocking the boat of UPA. How long will you keep quiet, Mr Prime Minister?."
Prasad also asked at whose behest was the note by the Finance Ministry prepared for the PMO.

“At whose instance did the Finance Ministry prepare the note for the PMO?... The country is certainly entitled to know if the PMO asked for the note. If yes, why was there no follow-up action?"
      
(Agencies)