New Delhi: Government on Tuesday faced fresh
attack from the Opposition on corruption when the BJP asked
Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran to answer charges that his
family-owned Sun TV Network was a beneficiary of pay-offs by a
Malaysian company which benefited from equity sold by Aircel.
"There are new scandals in the UPA government
everyday. A new scandal is on the verge of being exposed. The
cupboard of corruption of the UPA is overflowing and more
skeletons are dying to come out," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi
Shankar Prasad said reacting to a media report in this regard.
However, Congress washed its hands off the controversy
surrounding Maran, the former Telecom Minister.
"If a question has been asked from the Textiles
Minister Dayanidhi Maran, obviously he will be the best person
to answer it," party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters in
reply to a volley of questions on the issue.
Incidently, Maran had a lengthy meeting with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh last night after the meeting of the
Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.
At the same time, Tewari indicated that
irregularities, if any, during Maran`s tenure could be looked
into by the JPC which is looking into the 2G spectrum
allocation scam. Tewari is also a member of the JPC.
Prasad alleged that during Maran`s tenure as Telecom
Minister, there were some financial anomalies which benefited
companies owned by his family.
"We know Maran`s family owns Sun TV network which also
has Direct-to-Home (DTH) service. During his tenure as Telecom
Minister the FDI norm was changed and the telecom sector FDI
norm was increased to 74 per cent. Aircel, a telecom company
which only had a license for Tamil Nadu, later got license for
14 new areas," Prasad said.
The BJP alleged that 74 per cent stake in Aircel was
purchased by a Malaysian company Maxis Communication when
Maran was Telecom Minister.
"Mr Maran, will you please explain if Maxis
Communication company has made any investment in Sun DTH
company or any other of your family-owned companies? Secondly,
was this investment done through Astro Group company, which is
a subsidiary of Maxis Communication?" Prasad asked.
BJP also sought to know from Maran whether the
investment made in Sun Network by Maxis Communication was done
after the latter had bought 74 per cent equity of Aircel.
"He should also clarify if in any way a foreign
investor has invested in Sun network when Maran was a
minister. Is there a conflict of interest here or not? As a
responsible opposition party we are raising important
questions purely in national interest," Prasad said.
He also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify
his position on the issue.
"The Prime Minister must clarify his position on this
issue. As you all know that the authority of determining
pricing of spectrum was taken out of the purview of Group of
Ministers on insistence of Dayanidhi Maran," Prasad said.
Tewari said there is already a JPC to deal with
"aberrations and irregularities, if any that might have taken
place. JPC has been given the mandate by Parliament to examine
the alleged irregularities in Telecom sector since 1999 to
Replying to questions whether the JPC should look into
allegations against Maran and he should appear before it,
Tewari said that the panel could go into the issue on its own
or after any complaint "obviously if the thing appears in
public space and if JPC requires".