After 3G bonanza, parties want Raja`s head over 2G fiasco

A day after the Rs 67k cr 3G auction, BJP & Left demanded the Telecom Minister’s sacking for the meager sum that came up in 2G auction.

Updated: May 20, 2010, 22:54 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Expressing surprise at Telecom
Minister A Raja`s comparison of 2G Spectrum to PDS rice, BJP
today alleged that he had indulged in "corruption and
nepotism" to favour some companies and asked the Prime
Minister to break his silence on the issue.

"The PDS rice is distributed to the economically
deprived. The 2G spectrum was allotted to Reliance
Communications, Airtel, Vodafone, Swan Telecom, Videocon,
Unitech etc. Surely these are not deprived sections of the
society, which needed to be subsidized by A Raja," BJP
spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

She described Raja`s statement that difference between
2G and 3G spectrum is a difference between PDS rice and the
Basmati rice as "astonishing".

Alleging that 2G Spectrum went "for a song" as borne out
by the auction of 3G which realised an amount of Rs 67,710
crore against Rs 1,651 crore for the former, BJP demanded a
clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Raja`s
role in the earlier auction.

"How fair is the Prime Minister`s silence on this issue?
How long will the Prime Minister look the other way and
pretend that nothing has happened?... Only an FIR was filed by
CBI in the case and chargesheet has not been filed as yet. 3G
has only proved that the minister indulged in wrong
practices," Sitharaman said.

The main opposition hailed the success of 3G auction,
saying it showed how auctions involved a process where the
market mechanism determined the real cost of the asset being

"Spectrum is a valuable national asset. It belongs to
the government. When it is sold for to the private parties,
the government must necessarily get the market price of the
Spectrum," Sitharaman said.

BJP also tried to take credit for "transparent
auctioning" of 3G Spectrum, arguing that its criticism of 2G
allocation had forced the government to be "fair this time".

It also demanded that all issues related to 2G Spectrum
be probed.

"Two of the allottees diluted their equity immediately
upon the allocation of 2G Spectrum," Sitharaman alleged.

The licence and the Spectrum, which they obtained for Rs
1,651 crore, acquired a valuation of two billion dollars, or
over Rs. 9,000 crore, for dilution of equity, she said.

"Nine All India licences were allotted on this price.
Even on this valuation the loss was over Rs 60,000 crore," the
BJP spokesperson claimed.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) too joined the ‘sack Raja’ chorus and asked him to quit immediately. "If the minister refuses to resign, the Prime Minister should sack him", the party said.

The CPI-M said in a hard-hitting statement here that the outcome of the 3G spectrum auction convincingly proved that Raja was clearly involved in corrupt practices by selling 2G spectrum to some industrialists by manipulating Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations.

"Whereas 3G spectrum could fetch Rs.70,000 crore, 2G spectrum was sold at a paltry sum of Rs.2,000 crore. Raja had done so by blatantly violating the law, causing a huge loss to the public exchequer," the party`s politburo said.

"Despite repeated demands made in parliament and outside, Raja is nonchalantly continuing to stick to his position. Such a situation cannot be allowed to be continued," it said.

The CPI-M demanded that Raja immediately resign from his post "pending a high power enquiry into the scam".

"If the minister refuses to resign, the Prime Minister should sack him to maintain the dignity of the high post A. Raja is holding in the government," the statement said.

Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas also
claimed that it was "crystal clear" now that there was a
"serious" scam in the 2G auction.

Cong backs Raja

Congress however came out in defence of A Raja.

"BJP and the Left are misleading the country...They are
making stories. No wrong has been committed. The spectrum
allocation (in 2G) was as per the various guidelines and
recommendations of the TRAI," party spokesman Manish Tewari
told reporters here.

He asked the opposition parties to specify where
violations took place in allocating 2G spectrum.

Tewari said the government acted as per the
recommendations and norms of the regulator and there was no

-Agencies inputs