2G Scam: Shourie questioned by CBI
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Last Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011, 17:43
New Delhi: Former Telecom minister Arun Shourie was on Friday questioned by the CBI during which he alleged that his successor Dayanidhi Maran had tweaked the TRAI guidelines in 2005 to benefit some operators.

Emerging after a three-hour long question session, Shourie told reporters that he had cited several instances to the investigating officers of alleged irregularities during Maran's tenure before A Raja took over as Telecom minister in 2007.

"Maran was the Minister. What is Raja being accused of Giving these 122 licenses without spectrum, when there is no spectrum with the Government. But it was in Maran's time that one sentence was put into the guidelines that there shall be no cap on the number of operators in a circle," he said.

Shourie said such a change could only come as a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendation.

"This (change) comes in the guidelines of 2005 whereas the TRAI did not recommend it till 2007. So by what horoscope under Maran was it decided that yes we can anticipate this recommedation before two years and start. That is how some operations were planned that could not go through and Raja acted on them," he quipped.

He also advised Raja to turn approver for the agency and spill the beans about the beneficiaries of this scam.

Shourie, who reached the CBI headquarters in the morning, was questioned along with the then Department of Telecom Secretary Vinod Vaish.

He said he had requested the presence of Vaish and some other officials because of their technical knowledge about the issue.

"I told them (the investigators) what were the circumstances and how individual decisions (regarding spectrum allocation) were taken that time (during his tenure) and that there was not a slightest departure from TRAI recommendations. There was not a slightest departure from the Cabinet decisions," Shourie said.

Handing over a 50-page note prepared by him on various issues relating to 2G-spectrum allocation policy appearing in the media, Shourie said he was ready to appear again if called by the agency.

The eminent journalist said he informed the CBI that TRAI did not do anything "surreptitiously" during his tenure and all the decisions were taken after open consultations.

"Not one of the 28 licenses was given for any lucrative area. They were given for the areas in which nobody was going. The objective of the Government was that in the North east, Bihar, Eastern UP and Jammu and Kashmir, mobile telephony should be extended and we achieved that," he said.

Shourie said he feels that CBI should concentrate on where the money was exchanged rather than procedures because they are mere circumstantial evidence of any changes being made in them to benefit some parties.

"I pointed out to them the things which were to happen in accordance with Cabinet decisions never happened neither during Maran term and certainly not under Raja. And they never went back to the Cabinet for changing the decision. That is the telling point...Real issue is money was exchanged," he said.

On the issue of Prime Minister's statement that Law Ministry, Finance Ministry and Telecom Ministry were working in synergy over spectrum pricing, he refused to give direct reply but said Law Minister H R Bharadwaj wanted the matter to be referred to the Group of Ministers but Raja managed to get terms of reference of GOM changed.

"The matter never goes to GOM, does that show harmony? Chidambaram keeps writing letters and objecting, Subba Rao kept writing letters and if Raja then persists in doing something to contrary to what they are recommending and Finance Ministry then reconciles to let by gones be by gones...to infer that they are in harmony is Prime Minister's prerogative," he said.

He said he clarified to the investigators some "four-five issues" raised by Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and Justice Shivraj Patil's report which he termed as based on "concoctions".

Shourie had held the telecom portfolio between January 2003 and May 2004 in the NDA regime.

According to the CBI, nearly 50 licences were given out then on a first-come-first-serve basis and Bharti, Vodafone and Idea were among the beneficiaries of the policy.

The former telecom minister also lambasted Shivraj Patil committee's report, saying these "signatures for hire" (referring to Patil) did not see the documents themselves.

He said Government was trying to divert attention from the real issue that kickbacks were received in 2G spectrum allocation.

"While media is busy covering visits of industrialists and corporates to the CBI, the Prime Minister's name is out, (DMK leader) M Karunanidhi's name is out. Names of other Congress members are out," he said.

He said as per his information, the CBI has spoken to the whistleblower who had given the inputs about the scam.

When asked about Prime Minister's statement on coalition politics, Shourie said, "Now Raja has been put in jail, has any consequence followed for the coalition. Why not look at the compulsions of the DMK? They cannot go against the central government. See their compulsions as well."


First Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, 17:43

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