Tata, State MP spar over 2G allocation

Spectrum scam fallout: Many of the policy flip-flops occurred during the NDA regime

In a rejoinder to an earlier “open letter”written by the independent MP, Tata said the UPA policy “broke the powerful cartel” while he said the former’s letter was “politically motivated and was aimed at embarrassing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ruling party”.

In what was seen as corporates taking political sides, the Tata group boss backed the probe covering the period since 2001 when the BJP-led NDA was in power and hit out at the BJP saying “many of the flip-flops in the telecom policy occurred during the regime”.

In his open letter, the Karnataka MP, who was elected with the support of Janata Dal (Secular) and the BJP, criticised Tata for allegedly not being transparent and being one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government telecom policy.

On the MP’s charge that group company Tata Tele Services Limited (TTSL) was a beneficiary of out-of-turn allocation of spectrum, Tata said the true position is that TTSL has not, “I repeat not” been advantaged in any way by Raja or any earlier minister.

Chandrasekhar was the past president of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the lobby of GSM operators. GSM is one of the two technology platforms, the other being CDMA on which TTSL was offering services prior to the advent of dual technology in 2008.
The leading GSM operators are Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and several new operators such as Uninor, while the CDMA space was mainly held by TTSL and Reliance Communications before both of them were granted GSM spectrum.

“Your affiliation to a particular political party is well-known and it appears that political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the prime minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter,” Tata told Chandrasekhar.

Alleging that some media houses were also partial in the coverage of the entire issue in deference to the owners who were the real gainers in the telecom sector, Tata said Chandrasekhar had kept the current trend of “attempted character assassination through widespread media publicity couched in pain and concern for upholding ethics and values”.

Taking the powerful GSM operators head-on for what he termed as holding of spectrum free of cost, Tata said: “Recent policy (allocation of licences in 2008) broke the powerful cartel which has been holding back competition and delaying the implementation of policies.”

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