Action at any level if corruption proven in telecom licence: PM
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today responded to allegations of corruption on Telecom Minister A Raja over sale of licences in 2008 and promised to take action if corruption was proved "at any level".
Acknowledging that the recent auction of 3G spectrum had yielded nearly Rs 68,000 crore as against about Rs 10,000 crore from 2G licences, granted two years ago, Singh, however, said that pending investigations by CBI, it would not be proper for him to express any "definitive opinion".
The Prime Minister said Raja had told him that "what he did was, implemented the policies which were in place since 2003 (NDA regime)."
The opposition has been seeking Raja's resignation saying the alleged scam in 2G licence sale caused a loss of up to Rs one lakh crore to the exchequer.
Answering a query at the first national press conference of the UPA-II, Singh said: "I have also discussed this issue with Raja... he has told me that what he did was, implemented the policies which were in place since 2003 (NDA regime)."
Singh said Raja, who represents DMK in the Union Cabinet, has also made his position clear in Parliament and in the media.
The Prime Minister, however, acknowledged the huge gap in the revenue generation from 2G licences (given away by Raja in 2008) compared to a whopping Rs 67,700 crore from the auction of 3G spectrum sale that concluded only last week.
"I think one has to look at the whole problem in proper perspective. There was a particular policy which was in place since 2003 before our government came into power," Singh said, adding that Raja's point was that it would amount to discrimination if different yardsticks were applied for the new entrants.
Pointing that the whole issue was being investigated and the CVC has asked the CBI to look into this and the process is on, he said and assured: "If I come to know that there is any involvement at any level in corruption, we will take action."
The pricing for 2G spectrum was based on policies that were already in place and had approvals of telecom regulator TRAI, Singh quoted Raja as having told him.
Nine new companies including Unitech, Shyam Sistema, Datacom, S Tel and Loop Telecom were given licences in 2008 and pan-India licence was then offered at Rs 1,658 crore along with start-up 4.4 MHz spectrum.
Anil Ambani-led RCom and Tata Teleservices were allowed to offer mobile services on both technology platforms -- GSM and CDMA.