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Uproar in Parliament over 2G spectrum allocation

Telecom Minister A Raja was in the eye of a storm in the Parliament on Thursday with BJP and AIADMK alleging that the country had lost Rs one lakh crore in 2G spectrum allocation and demanding a JPC probe.



New Delhi: Telecom Minister A Raja was in the eye of a storm in the Parliament on Thursday with BJP and AIADMK alleging that the country had lost Rs one lakh crore in 2G spectrum allocation and demanding a JPC probe, pending which Raja should be removed from the ministry.

Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar and an adjournment after members of AIADMK raised the issue of 2G spectrum allocation.

In the Lok Sabha, AIADMK member M Thambidurai, supported by BJP members, asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take the issue seriously and order a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.

Thambidurai said Raja should be "kept out of the Ministry" till a JPC probe is held and the ongoing investigation by the CBI is completed.

He reminded Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was present, of his promise that the government would respond to various issues raised by the
Opposition, including 2G spectrum allocation.

Thambidurai was supported by BJP members, led by its Deputy Leader Gopinath Munde and Yashwant Sinha, in demanding a JPC probe.

Even as DMK leader T R Baalu vehemently tried to prevent
the issue from being raised, Thambidurai said, "I am not
levelling any allegation. I am bringing facts to the House."

He alleged that the country had lost Rs one lakh in the
allocation of 2G spectrum during 2007-08.

His contention led to a clash between members of AIADMK,
supported by BJP, and DMK, a party to which Raja belongs. The
Minister was not present in the House.

In view of the uproar, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the
House for an hour.

In the Rajya Sabha, AIADMK members forced a brief
adjournment before staging a walk out demanding Raja`s
dismissal from the Union Cabinet over his alleged involvement
in the spectrum scam.

As soon as the House met for the day, AIADMK members were
on their feet displaying CDs and newspapers carrying purported
taped conversation with Raja and public relations lobbyist
Nira Radia.

Chairman Hamid Ansari asked members not to show CDs or
display newspapers. "This is incorrect. Please do not disrupt
Question Hour," he said, before adjourning the House for 10
minutes.

After the Upper House re-assembled, the AIADMK members
again raised the issue, demanding an explanation from the
government.

When the Chairman disapproved of their behaviour, the
AIADMK members staged a noisy walk-out.

In the Lok Sabha, Thambidurai said Comptroller and Auditor
General (CAG) had noted that Rs 26,000 crore had been lost
"because of wrong-doing by this (Telecom) Ministry."

He said even the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had
pointed out that Raja`s policy of giving 2G spectrum on
`first-come-first-served` basis resulted in allocation at
cheap rates which was "not acceptable".

On CVC`s order, the CBI lodged an FIR under Section 120
(B) of the CrPC and under Prevention of Corruption Act, the
AIADMK member said.

He said the CBI had subsequently raided some "benami
companies" and interrogated some people and added that even
the Delhi High Court has adversely commented on the ministry`s
approach on 2G.

"These are facts, not allegations," Thambidurai said.

Baalu, who repeatedly interrupted Thambidurai, insisted
that no allegations should be levelled against the Minister
against whom no case has been lodged.

"These are wild allegations," the DMK member said.

The Speaker, while asking Thambidurai not to level any
personal allegations against the Minister, assured Baalu that
she would go through the records and expunge anything
objectionable.

Contending that the issue was serious, the AIADMK member
said, "We don`t know where the money has gone. It is
tax-payer`s money."

The BJP members, who were on their feet, took strong
objection to the interruptions by Baalu.

Thambidurai also raised questions over the transfer of a
CBI officer who was conducting probe into the matter, saying
it was done despite court orders against any such action.

The comments by Thambidurai led to a clash between members
of DMK and AIADMK-BJP combine.

AIADMK members were set to storm the well but the Speaker
adjourned the House.

PTI

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