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Government in tight spot over spectrum issue

Under fire from its old and present allies, the government is finding it difficult to wriggle out of the telecom spectrum allocation controversy, reports Nagendar Sharma.

india Updated: Nov 10, 2008 21:40 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Under fire from its old and present allies, the government is finding it difficult to wriggle out of the telecom spectrum allocation controversy.

Political parties have stirred a controversy close to the general elections, and even the resignation offer by Telecom Minister A Raja has not pacified them.

The issue termed as “Rs 60,000 crore scam” by Left parties, and with Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Amar Singh too joining the bandwagon, Raja may have to do a lot of explaining in the coming days.

The CPI (M) has targeted companies like Swan and Unitech, for having hugely benefited during the 2G spectrum allocation, and has warned the government to invoke fair trade practices and anti-monopoly restrictions before the allocations of licences for 3G, likely to be done in December.

“It is clear from the sale of shares by Swan and Unitech that more than Rs 60,000 crore has been lost to the national exchequer by giving away scarce spectrum at a fraction of the market price,” said senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.

On the other hand, the SP has put the scam amount at Rs 18,000 crore and has chosen to target well known companies like “Vodafone, Airtel and Idea for violating the norms laid down by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.”

The government has, so far, denied any wrongdoing and Raja went to the extent of saying that he would resign in case any wrongdoing was proved in the entire matter of allocations.

“It seems some people do not want Raja, a Dalit, to remain a minister,” Raja said, bringing another political twist — caste — into the controversy.