AIADMK seeks Telecom minister Raja’s resignation
The 2G Spectrum allocation continues to haunt Telecom Minister A. Raja. The AIADMK in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Raja over alleged corruption in the allocation of 2G spectrum, provoking heated exchanges in the house with the DMK members.
This led to a brief adjournment of the Rajya Sabha. As zero hour started, the AIADMK member V Maitreyan demanded resignation of the Telecom Minister alleging a scam in allocation of 2G spectrum. Angry DMK members rose to counter the allegation, which led to a war of words between MPs of the two Tamil Nadu parties. Amidst the uproar, Chairman M Hamid Ansari adjourned the house for 15 minutes.
The 2G Spectrum, according to opposition is a Rs60,000-crore scam. It has erupted time and again in Parliament though the Prime Minister has virtually given a clean chit to the Minister. Raja has also said he was ready to face any probe regarding favoritism or fraud in the allotment.
The last time in April, Parliament proceedings were disrupted over a newspaper report based on records of phone conversations between corporate lobbyist Nira Radia and several high-profile people, including Raja. According to the report, the phone records indicated that corporate groups had a role in influencing Raja’s decision in the alleged 2G spectrum scam. Raja could not be contacted for comment.
The opposition allegation is that the government gave away scarce spectrum to companies, clubbed with licensees, on a first-come-first-serve basis, rather than through an auction process. That is, an operator got start-up spectrum by paying pan-India licensee fee of Rs1,650 crore. Also, many new players roped in foreign investors soon after acquiring the licensees, thereby making a neat sum.
Raja has so far maintained that the government has continued with the prevalent practice of allocating 2G startup spectrum along with licences on a first-come-first-serve basis. But, the 2G spectrum allocation issue came under the scrutiny of various bodies, including the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Despite these investigations during the UPA-1 regime, Raja returned as the IT and communications minister in UPA-2. Raja is an MP of UPA ally DMK.
The government policy to allocate 2G spectrum on a first-come-first-serve basis was criticized as the auction of 3G (third generation) spectrum has received exceedingly high bids. Against the pan-India reserve price of Rs3,500 crore, the 3G auction yielded close to Rs9,000 crore in 16 days of bidding. AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has been demanding the dismissal of Raja over the spectrum scam.
- Asian Tribune -