Raja draws flak over spectrum

Telecom minister rejects demand for probe


The minister also refused to accept the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary probe into the issue.

Replying to a lengthy debate on the working of the Telecom Ministry, Raja was virtually left alone to defend himself while answering a volley of questions raised by the Opposition members.  None of his colleagues came to his rescue despite a fierce attack by the Opposition.

“Yes, I do admit that, for the first time, many leaders have attacked a single minister, that is  me. But, you should also know that I have made several revolutionary changes in the ministry which benefited telephone subscribers as well as exchequer a lot,” he said.
Raja, who was the telecom minister in the previous United Pprogressive Alliance government, was under attack for some controversial decisions taken by his ministry, particularly while allocating spectrum to private telecom operators.

As the Opposition alleged a “monumental scam” in the issue, he tried to throw the ball in the court of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) saying the regulator should revisit the entry fee for telecom licenses. Raja said that by adopting a first-come-first-serve basis method, his ministry was responsible for increasing tele-density as well as licence fee.

However, unhappy with the minister’s reply, the Opposition parties–– the BJP and the Left–– staged a walkout. In 2007, while allocating 2G spectrum to private telecom service providers, the ministry had adopted first-come-first-serve basis instead of opting for auction. 

According to the Opposition, the method adopted by the ministry has caused the exchequer a loss of around Rs 1 lakh crore.

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