Tata got spectrum out of turn: Chandrasekhar

Tata in his open letter had asserted that his group company Tata Teleservices had not been advantaged in any way by former telecom minister A Raja or any earlier minister.

New Delhi: Continuing his war of words
with Ratan Tata, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Thursday
alleged that contrary to claims of probity, the Tata group got
spectrum allocated out of turn through change in policy to
allow dual technology.

Responding to recent letter by Tata that he was acting
at the behest of some political interests to embarrass Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and the government and lobbied for a
change in telecom policy that helped big GSM players,
Chandrasekhar also questioned former telecom regulator Pradeep
Baijal`s role in benefiting Tatas.

In a veiled attack against Tatas` PR consultant Niira
Radia, whose taped conversations with him prompted Ratan Tata
to take a public position and recourse to legal remedies, the
MP asked authorities to keep focus of investigation on scam to
weed out the lobbyists from the telecom sector.

Ratan Tata had taken a strong exception to leakage and
publication of the tape containing what he termed as private
conversations and also talked about the erosion in governance.

Reacting to the position of probity and transparency
taken by Tata, Chandrasekhar had alleged that the conglomerate
itself was beneficiary of policy changes, provoking Ratan Tata
to issue a strong rebuttal.

"I completely stand by every word that I have written in
my letter... Tata had raised the issue of flip-flop of policy,
I would like to ask how did the Tata companies get UASL
licences in new circles without going through the auction
process (in 2003)," Chandrasekhar said in a statement.

Tata in his open letter had asserted that his group
company Tata Teleservices had not been advantaged in any way
by former telecom minister A Raja or any earlier minister.

Tata had also asserted that the government`s telecom
policy broke the powerful cartel. He also backed the probe
covering the period since 2001 when BJP-led NDA was in power.

In his statement today, Chandrasekhar also questioned
former TRAI Chairman Pradeep Baijal`s role as he was at helm
of affairs when the telecom regulator recommended converting
limited mobility into full mobility licences (called Unified
Access Service Licence).

After his retirement from TRAI, Baijal had joined a firm
which was offering consultancy to Tata companies, he said.

Chandrasekhar said he has chosen to issue a statement
rather than responding to Tata`s open letter. "Focus must
remain on 2G spectrum scam investigations and speedy
prosecution of all the guilty parties should become a national
priority as this is important to rid the telecom sector once
and for all of corruption, policy capture by Corporates and
lobbyists," he added.

In his statement, Chandrasekhar said, "I had originally
planned to reply in detail to Ratan Tata?s response to my open
letter, but in view of the Supreme Court statement today, I
have decided against a continued public exchange of letters.

"Because I do not wish to distract media and public from
the recently launched and ongoing investigation into the
spectrum scam(s), or give the false impression that this is a
corporate war. The investigation is a national priority. The
recovery of the lost money is a national priority," he said.

"Why were certain policies of the government created,
which the CAG has confirmed has caused loss to the public
exchequer? Which corporate were the beneficiaries of such
policies? Who are the shadowy politicians and bureaucrats
behind these benefits and beneficiaries and their
relationship with corporates/lobbyists?" the MP asked.

These need to be asked of all the companies and
policymakers in telecom today including the Tatas, he added.

Throwing an open challenge he said, "I am willing to
discuss the issues that were first raised in Tata?s interview"
including those of policy flip-flop, out of turn allocation of
spectrum and its hoarding.

On the issue of spectrum hoarding, Tata had said that old
GSM operators were holding excess spectrum and that too free
of cost.

Chandrasekhar said that companies which have got both
CDMA as well GSM spectrum (Tata Teleservices and RCom) at 2001
price serve the least number of subscribers and also paid the
minimum revenue to the government per MHz of spectrum
(compared to old operators).

"I believe it?s time that the country learns the truth
about the goings on in the telecom sector. All telecom
companies who have benefited unfairly must come clean. I hope
other companies - DB Telecom, Unitech, Reliance, Airtel,
Vodafone etc will join this public debate too," he added.