Sunday, November 14, 2010

India - Finally, the Telecoms Minister has resigned over the licensing scandal

[the hindu] Ahead of an expected statement in Parliament on Monday, Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja has handed over his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The development follows hectic parleys between some senior Congress leaders and Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi during the day. By evening on Sunday, the DMK leader advised Mr. Raja to submit his resignation.

NDA government policy

This brings to a close one chapter of the drama that involved allegations of corruption in 2G spectrum allocation, although Mr. Raja continued to maintain that he was following the policy laid down by the previous National Democratic Alliance government and was not guilty of any wrong doing.

Soon after tendering his resignation, Mr. Raja told journalists here that he had done what he had been advised to do by “my leader,” that is, Mr. Karunanidhi. Mr. Raja said he was confident that his innocence would be established. “My conscience is clear and I have done nothing wrong.”

‘Tele-density had risen'

Mr. Raja pointed out that through his efforts in the Ministry tele-density had risen from about 300 million users, when he took charge, to over 700 million now. The rates per call for mobile telephone users had also fallen dramatically from Rs.1.60 to just 40 paise or less, with huge reductions in outstation telephone call charges.

The CAG report on the spectrum allocation, sent to President Pratibha Patil for her signature, is expected to be presented to Parliament on Monday or the next couple of days.

Senior Congress leaders have so far maintained that serious adverse remarks were made by the CAG even in its report in 2000 on the telecom sector when the then NDA government waived committed licence fees and allowed companies in this sector to migrate to a system of revenue sharing. At that time too, there were allegations of loss to the exchequer of thousands of crores of rupees. “In any case, the CAG report will be seen by the Public Accounts Committee chaired by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi,” a senior Congress leader in the government pointed out.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties have welcomed the resignation of Mr. Raja, but there is no word yet on what will happen in Parliament that has been stalled since November 10.

Telecommunications Minister Raja resigns from Union Cabinet

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